'We have to find innovative ways'
Perdue gives annual environment address

LAWRENCEVILLE - Gov. Sonny Perdue called on all Georgians on Thursday to create a culture of conservation in the state that becomes a source of pride.

In delivering his annual environmental address to a room of 1,200 people at the Gwinnett Center, Perdue said the phenomenal growth experienced by the state demands this as the strain on our natural resources has already begun.

"We've got to figure things out, and conservation needs to be a part of figuring things out in that multifaceted, silver buckshot approach," Perdue said. "We've got to find innovative ways to be more efficient, reduce water use, protect our land and reshape the

energy landscape that is now dominated by foreign supply and exorbitant prices."

In terms of being more energy efficient and reducing our water usage, Perdue touted the Conserve Georgia Web site initiative and said despite the population growth the state is experiencing, he's still counting on state agencies to reduce their electricity consumption by 15 percent and their water usage by 10 percent by the year 2020. He said as all Georgians know, water as a resource is not infinite. He also said it was the little things, like not littering or simply turning off the water when you brush your teeth, that individual people can do that really makes a difference.

"Collectively, if we make a cultural change, this can have much more of a direct impact on our resources than any government program or policy," he said.

But Perdue also said that governmental policies and guidance measures do matter, and that the country must build "a more diversified portfolio of energy resources that make us more self reliant and less dependent on foreign supply."

Perdue said the United States currently sends $700 billion per year overseas to pay for energy.

To assist with becoming self-reliant, Perdue announced that Tucker-based Oglethorpe Power, the largest supply cooperative in the country, would invest $1 billion to build three 100 megawatt biomass electricity generation stations. Perdue said the biomass materials would come largely from pine trees, a renewable resource that would also assist the state's timber growers in their business. And reshaping the energy landscape didn't stop with renewable resources either. As part three of his plan, the governor said the country needs to increase access to fossil fuel resources that includes responsible offshore drilling and the use of advanced technologies like coal gasification.

The governor drew applause when he said achieving these goals was the nation's man on the moon effort.

"We're conserving like never before," he said. "And it takes vision, it takes planning and it takes execution to get to a better place."

For more information on the Conserve Georgia initiative, visit www.conservegeorgia.org.