Oct 07 2010

A ‘dead’ bill

Anniston Star

For Georgia, the way to “fix” that state’s “water woes” is for Congress to pass legislation that would allow metro Atlanta to do what a federal judge said was illegal under existing law — withdraw excess water from Lake Lanier.

That’s why Georgia’s Republican Sens. Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss introduced such a bill last week.

What do they care about Alabamians, Floridians and even Georgians downstream? What metro Atlanta wants is what Georgia wants, and the devil takes the rest.

Happily, the bill has no chance.

“It’s dead on arrival,” Alabama Republican Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa, put it to the Associated Press. Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Mobile, and his Florida counterparts surely agree.

The question, then, is why was the legislation even introduced?

This session of Congress is over. The lame-duck session that will gather in about a month will have bigger things to deal with than a bill to keep Georgia from having to do what the court has said it must.

According to Isakson, he wanted to have legislation in place if and when the governors of the three states come to a water-sharing agreement. That’s a weak excuse. The governors are nowhere ready to sign an agreement, and even if they were, there is no way chief executives from Alabama and Florida will accept such an arrangement.

As for the next governors, from the lack of discussion of Georgia’s “water woes” in the current campaign, one would think it was not an issue at all. None of the candidates in any of the affected states has paid much attention to the ongoing water war. About the only thing this bill will add to future discussions will be to spell out Georgia’s position so Florida and Alabama can reject it.

Here’s a possible reason why this bill was introduced: Isakson is running for re-election, and it may help him to remind Georgians what he can do for them if re-elected. Of course, that hopeless legislation only reminds us of what Georgians would really like to do, if they could.