As the South experiences extreme heat and increased flooding, there is no question we are at a critical time for our environmental future. We have the opportunity to protect our remarkable natural resources and to help turn the tide on climate change. SELC was built for this.

Rooted in the South, we use strong legal and policy work, strategic vision, and pragmatic problem solving in all three branches and at all levels of government. When one door is closed, we find another way. With our commitment to place, SELC is building on nearly 40 years of success in Georgia and five other Southern states and driving results that resonate across the nation. That’s why we say, “Solutions Start in the South.”

Special Georgia challenge grant announcement

The Wilbur & Hilda Glenn Family Foundation has issued a $100,000 special challenge grant for new donors in Georgia inviting them to make a first-time gift to SELC. Thank you for making a special gift by the end of the year to help us meet our Georgia challenge and boost SELC’s powerful protection efforts.

Double your impact through our Georgia challenge grant.

Holding the line for the Okefenokee

For four years, SELC has led the fight to stop a proposed 8,000-acre titanium mine that would harm the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, one of the largest intact freshwater ecosystems in North America. Following expansive Trump-era rollbacks in clean water protections, SELC is continuing to work in the courts, with federal agencies, and on Capitol Hill to restore federal Clean Water Act protections to the proposed mine site. We are collaborating with more than 60 partners to coordinate a robust public and expert response—with nearly 200,000 public comments submitted opposing the stripmining plan Twin Pines delivered to state regulators. This project risks destroying the swamp’s hydrology and wrecking habitat for endangered wildlife, like the Red Cockaded Woodpecker. We asked regulators to reject the plan, and we are in federal court challenging the unlawful removal of federal protections from almost 600 acres of wetlands next to the Okefenokee.

Clean energy for Georgia

SELC brings our legal expertise to bear before the state’s Public Service Commission and General Assembly to make way for a more equitable and cleaner energy future for Georgians. In 2019, we laid the groundwork to ensure fair returns for up to 5,000 Georgia Power customers with rooftop solar installations. We are now advocating at the legislature for the removal of that cap and for other policies that make solar affordable and accessible. SELC and partners participated in several hearings in 2022 in which Georgia Power was required to adopt more renewable energy and energy efficiency. We will continue to build on this progress while pushing back against proposals to add unnecessary natural gas capacity in the state.

Stopping environmental injustices

SELC has halted operations at the Metro Green construction and demolition waste recycling facility next door to predominantly Black neighborhoods in Stonecrest and DeKalb County. Metro Green initially circumvented the county’s solid waste plan to push this noisy, dust-generating facility forward. SELC joined the case on behalf of Citizens for a Healthy and Safe Environment and won a preliminary injunction against further operation. In July 2022, the court ruled that Metro Green should have never been allowed to build this facility in a primarily Black neighborhood when Stonecrest had not engaged in solid waste management planning with input from residents. We continue to advocate for the facility’s closure after Metro Green and the state environmental agency appealed the court’s order.

In Adel, we reached a settlement with Spectrum Energy in December that sets a new standard for protecting communities from the impacts of wood pellet production. Spectrum is in the biomass energy business, producing wood pellets to burn in European power plants under misguided climate change policy. Producing electricity from forest biomass actually increases carbon in the atmosphere, while air pollution from pellet facilities disproportionately impacts communities of color. Our settlement in Adel comes after SELC and Concerned Citizens of Cook County filed a federal Title VI Civil Rights Act complaint, securing stronger protections for public health, ensuring greater public transparency, and setting limits on expansion if settlement terms are not met.

Solutions start in Georgia.

Nonprofit and nonpartisan, we are the Southern Environmental Law Center. The South’s largest and most effective environmental defender.

Addressing Georgia Power’s coal ash pollution

For more than a decade, SELC has been the national leader working with local community groups to force major utilities to remove 275 million tons of toxic coal ash and protect clean water across the South. However, state environmental regulators have proposed to allow a number of Georgia Power’s leaking coal ash pits to remain in place and continue polluting groundwater at several sites. In a significant move, EPA confirmed our arguments, making it clear that federal rules prevent utilities from leaving coal ash sitting in groundwater. SELC will continue to play its central role pressing Georgia Power and the state to enact a full cleanup. 

Keeping sewage out of the Chattahoochee 

SELC won an important victory protecting the Chattahoochee River as it runs through Columbus. During heavy rains, raw sewage often overflows into the river, a nationally-renowned whitewater rafting destination. The state issued a strong wastewater permit that addresses this problem, but the city has challenged it. SELC stepped in on behalf of the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, and the court ruled in our favor, affirming the permit against all of the city’s challenges. We defended the city’s appeal of this ruling in Muscogee County Superior Court and continue the fight in the Georgia Court of Appeals. 

Double your impact through our Georgia challenge grant.

Defending Georgia’s coast from risky rockets

SELC is opposing Spaceport Camden, a proposed 11,000-acre rocket launch facility in Camden County that would bring light and noise pollution, water contamination, wildfire risk, and access restrictions on Cumberland Island National Seashore. Federal agencies, including the National Park Service, have raised concerns with the Federal Aviation Administration’s failure to properly consider the project’s environmental impacts. Nevertheless, the FAA issued its legally flawed launch license, and in late 2021, we challenged it in federal court. In addition, citizens of Camden County voted overwhelmingly to oppose purchasing a contaminated plot of land for the spaceport. SELC will continue to fight on all fronts to protect Cumberland Island from this inappropriate and harmful development. 

Protecting clean water in Georgia

Sampling by state and federal authorities in northwest Georgia has revealed troubling levels of soil and water contamination in the Chattooga River and downstream waters by so-called “forever chemicals,” also known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS. In 2022, SELC notified a wastewater treatment plant and a textile mill of our intent to sue to enforce federal and state laws, and will ask them to cease the ongoing discharges of these forever chemicals to Georgia’s waterways and protect downstream communities.