ATLANTA - Republican candidate for lieutenant governor Casey Cagle tops a list of "Dirty Dozen" Georgia politicians released Tuesday by a statewide environmental group in time for next month's elections.
In what actually amounts to a "baker's dozen" hit list, the Georgia chapter of the Sierra Club criticized the Gainesville-area state senator, Public Service Commission Chairman Stan Wise and 11 members of the General Assembly seeking re-election for introducing and/or voting for a host of bills the organization considers harmful to the environment.
"Some of these folks have taken the lead in sponsoring bad legislation," said Mark Woodall, the Sierra Club's legislative chairman. "Others are consistently bad votes in committee or on the floor."
After winning a bruising Republican primary against political strategist Ralph Reed of Duluth, Cagle is opposing former state Rep. Jim Martin, D-Atlanta, for the second-highest office in state government.
Specifically, the Sierra Club took Cagle to task for leading efforts in the Senate in 2003 to pass legislation allowing the buying and selling of water-use permits on the open market. The measure was shot down in favor of retaining current Georgia law, which declares water a public resource.
Cagle also was cited for introducing a bill two years ago that would have reduced the width of stream buffers required of developers.
"Sen. Cagle has been on a campaign against the environment," Woodall said. "He seems to think it's good politics. We don't."
But Cagle spokesman Brad Alexander said the senator has built a strong record on conservation issues, including sponsorship this year of legislation offering tax credits to property owners willing to leave their land undeveloped.
"The Georgia Sierra Club is dominated by the extreme left wing of the Georgia Democrat Party," Alexander said. "We are proud to have the support of conservationists, farmers and sportsmen across Georgia who
recognize Casey is deeply committed to protecting the environment."
The Sierra Club's list, released every two years, targeted a member of the PSC for the first time. The group accused Wise of consistently being on the prevailing side of a narrow commission majority that favors nuclear power and has allowed Georgia Power Co. to get by with an ineffective "green power" program for consumers who wish to buy electricity produced from renewable resources.
"The consumer and environment have been losing a lot of 3-2 votes," Woodall said.
Wise, who is being challenged by Democrat Dawn Randolph, said he's doing the best he can to ensure an adequate energy supply for a rapidly growing state.
"The only thing I can think is the club is bitter because I am a proponent of safe, clean reliable service for Georgians," he said. "And even though I am a proponent of conservation and green power ... it's not enough."
Of the 11 lawmakers who made the list, none are from Gwinnett County.
But the Sierra Club did target Sen. Ralph Hudgens, R-Comer, whose district includes Barrow County.
Hudgens appeared on the Dirty Dozen for the second time in a row, with generic criticism of his "anti-environmental" voting record as a member of the Senate Natural Resources Committee.
He said he doesn't consider his votes anti-environment but pro-economic development.
"I'm a conservationist. I'm an environmentalist," he said. "But I don't believe in going to radical extremes."
Unlike two years ago, when the club's hit list included Democrats and Republicans, the new list is all GOP.
Woodall noted that two of the legislators on this year's list were Democrats who recently turned Republican.
Here are the "baker's dozen" of Georgia elected officials who made the Sierra Club's "Dirty Dozen" list released on Tuesday:
•Sen. Casey Cagle, R-Chestnut Mountain, candidate for lieutenant governor
•Public Service Commission Chairman Stan Wise, R-Marietta
•Sen. John Bulloch, R-Ochlocknee
•Sen. Ralph Hudgens, R-Comer
•Sen. Chip Pearson, R-Dawsonville
•Sen. Nancy Schaefer, R-Turnerville
•Senate Majority Leader Tommie Williams, R-Lyons
•Rep. Steve Davis, R-McDonough
•Rep. Ron Forster, R-Ringgold
•Rep. Harry Geisinger, R-Roswell
•Rep. John Lunsford, R-McDonough
•Rep. Carl Rogers, R-Gainesville
•Rep. Richard Royal, R-Camilla