Other Laws: Georgia Environmental Policy Act

The preceding chapters have discussed many of the most important, and most used, environmental statutes. A host of other statutes, however, may apply to a given situation. Most of these statutes are administered by either the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or the Environmental Protection Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (EPD).

This section includes a high-level overview of another law you may encounter in pursuing environmental justice. This law may have exemptions or nuances that are beyond the scope of this section. If you have questions, please reach out to a lawyer for assistance. In addressing any environmental justice issue, one of your first tasks will be to determine which of these laws might apply to the situation you are facing.


Other Laws: Georgia Environmental Policy Act

(O.C.G.A. §§ 12-16-1 to -23)

The Georgia Environmental Policy Act (GEPA) is the state’s version of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). This Act mainly applies to construction projects undertaken by state agencies.

The Act requires that the responsible official for the agency consider whether the proposed project will significantly affect the environment, and the Act requires the agency to prepare an Environmental Effects Report. Similar to an Environmental Impact Statement under NEPA, the Environmental Effects Report should discuss the environmental effects, mitigation measures that may be undertaken, and any reasonable alternatives.

This report must be prepared at least 45 days before a decision is reached and published in the county of the proposed action. The report must be made available to counties, municipalities, institutions, and the general public upon request.

Citizens may request a public hearing on the proposed action. However, this request must be made in writing within 30 days of publication of the report and at least 100 Georgia residents must make the request. The responsible official must consider all comments made during the hearing in deciding whether to proceed with the agency action.