The decision to put the environmental issue as the third primary priority drew the most discussion Wednesday.
Several members of the committee are concerned about a perceived effort to do away with coal-fired power plants.
“Their agenda is to shut down coal power plants,” said contractor Tom Bennett.
Rich Hammond, retired manager of the Bekaert plant in Rome, said that Georgia Power has spent millions of dollars upgrading emissions controls at all of its plants, but specifically Plant Hammond in western Floyd County.
“The question has to be how pure is pure?” Hammond said.
Great Rome Chamber of Commerce President Al Hodge told the committee that efforts to eliminate coal-fired power plants were incompatible with efforts of the nation to become energy self-sufficient. He made it clear that the chamber does not oppose environmental regulations but that at some point regulations have to be reconciled with economic realities.
Anticipated tightening of some water regulations were brought up by City Commissioner Buzz Wachsteter.
“We’re meeting or exceeding every guideline, but now they’re talking about more guidelines,” said Wachsteter. “My goodness, we haven’t paid for the old ones yet.”
Wachsteter was referring to major upgrades to the city’s wastewater treatment plant on Black’s Bluff Road. The city has spent more than $45 million to upgrade the plant during the last decade.
“I know they get tired of hearing (about U.S. 411), but we need to keep pressing,” said Chamber Governmental Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ansley Saville.
Ken Wright, the chamber’s business and existing industry director, said Rome’s airport is a huge, though underutilized, asset to the community. One of the items in the airport work plan involves the expansion of the main runway by about 1,000 feet, and chamber officials want to make sure that the Federal Aviation Administration keeps the Rome project on a priority list for funding. A number of industries in Rome are using the airport to bring in manufacturing goods.
“Things are all set up, what we need now is people,” said Martha Summerbell, who is coordinating the trip to Washington.
Reservations can be made through the chamber office at 706-291-7663.