Gov. Nathan Deal speaks Thursday at Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful’s annual environmental address event. (Staff Photo: Camie Young)
Gov. Deal discusses environment, jobs
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal discusses the environment's effect on jobs in an address for Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful.
Georgia’s economy is linked to the environment, Gov. Nathan Deal said Thursday, as he presented an environmental address for Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful.
“It is important to have an environment that is clean and beautiful because that’s what people and businesses want,” Deal said, adding that companies often consider sustainability and the natural environment when choosing where to locate or expand businesses and that green jobs are helping drop the state’s unemployment rate.
“We are a state that is blessed with many things, abundant rainful, very luxurious mountains and forests and great state parks,” Deal told a crowd of more than 1,000 gathered at the Gwinnett Center. “We have a lot to be proud of about our natural beauty.”
While the nonprofit’s annual governor’s address has taken a five-year hiatus, one issue has lingered over the years: water.
Deal said Thursday that the state is once again facing a lawsuit with Florida over water supply, and that he will continue to be vigilant to make sure that Gwinnett receives credit for its efforts to return reclaimed wastewater to Lake Lanier, an endeavor that cost millions and should be a factor in allocating out the resource.
But that body of water is not his only concern. Deal spent time talking about the proposed expansion of the port of Savannah, expressing his disappointment that the president did not include funding for the project.
Georgia plans to keep working, Deal said, with nearly a third of the project’s $652 million budget set aside in state funding.
“Our intention is to move forward with the things we are allowed to do,” he said, adding that about half of the project’s price tag is for environmental studies or mitigation, one of the largest percentages ever for such a project.
“Every county in this state receives some economic benefit from that port,” Deal said. “It is a project that not only spurs our economy. It also deals with the concerns of our environment.”
While jobs is the governor’s No. 1 focus for the state, the environment plays a major part in that, he said.
“If you want jobs to come our way, people who are looking at your county … they want to be in a county and a community that values being clean and values the beauty,” he said. “It simply makes good business sense. … What a beautiful state we have. Let’s keep it that way.”