It has recently come to the attention of TCPA that the state of Georgia is considering legislation that would have a huge impact on archaeological sites in the state. GA Senate Bill 346 would amend their state environmental policy to exempt state funded projects less than $100 million from environmental reviews, including those for archaeological sites. This would most certainly exempt the majority of state funded transportation projects from having to have any kind of cultural resource evaluation done before development started. The bill cleared the GA Senate and is headed to the House. The House Highway Regulations subcommittee will hear testimony about the bill at 2 p.m.on Thursday, March 10, 2016.
Many state organizations have responded in opposition, as has the Southeastern Archaeological Conference. Richard Moss, the president of the Georgia Council for Professional Archaeologist sums up our concerns best:
“SB 346 is a risky and ill-thought amendment that guts the GEPA, the only state statute that ensures government projects consider potential adverse impacts to cultural resources like unmarked cemeteries, American Indian sites, and battlefields. The bill threatens Georgia’s irreplaceable archaeological sites, and may cause costly project delays and public outcry if a site is discovered after construction begins.”
Members of the TCPA Executive Board felt it was our duty as a professional archaeological organization to also file a response. Today, we sent a letter to Georgia Representative Christian Coomer in the hopes of swaying him and others to vote against the bill. We would also encourage our members to send letters to Representative Coomer asking him to vote against the bill and to sway others to do so. As professional archaeologists it is our duty to try to protect sites both near and far. Our cultural heritage is irreplaceable and the TCPA stands with the GCPA and others in denouncing this bill. <
For information about GA Senate Bill 346 visit the following link: http://www.legis.ga.gov/Legislation/en-US/display/20152016/SB/346