Georgia Attorney Chris Carr spoke Monday to the Atlanta Press Club about guarding against government overreach. (DAVID BARNES / DAVID.BARNES@AJC.COM)
Photo: David Barnes
Photo: David Barnes

Carr outlines his priorities as Georgia’s attorney general

Five months into office, Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr sees his primary responsibility as protecting the state’s residents against unlawful overreach.

“To ensure that government remains within its limited powers, there needs to be an Attorney General’s Office willing to challenge actions that overstep those limits,” Carr said.

While other attorneys general have interpreted that as a mission to challenge President Donald Trump on issues such as immigration policy, Carr is focused on state and regional issues, such as the Waters of the U.S. rule.

The 2015 rule, also known as the Clean Water Rule, would allow the Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers to regulate tributaries to rivers and streams under the Clean Water Act. Environmental groups calculate that 57 percent of Georgia’s streams, amounting to about 40,000 miles of flowing water, would fall under that umbrella.

“If allowed to go forward, we believe this rule will have significant consequences for homeowners, farmers and other entities, subjecting them to costly permits and complex federal mandates to perform everyday tasks,” Carr said.

Trump has already signed an executive order seeking repeal of the rule.

The state’s top law enforcer, speaking Monday to the Atlanta Press Club, outlined his priorities: reducing human trafficking and opioid dependency, alleviating elder abuse, and increasing transparency of government.

In preparing for a re-election campaign, Carr, who took over after Sam Olens was named president of Kennesaw State University, paid tribute to his past.

“Let me put my economic development hat on for a second,” said Carr, who served as commissioner of the state Department of Economic Development before Gov. Nathan Deal appointed him attorney general.

Carr plans to approach the job of attorney general the same way he did when he was heading the state’s job-recruiting efforts.

“It’s a matter of sitting down and saying: ‘Let’s not reinvent the wheel. Let’s not add to government. Let’s make it more effective and more efficient,’ ” Carr said.

As a reminder of his prosecuting ability, Carr emphasized the importance of government access and cautioned those who, even unintentionally, abuse their power.

“We must ensure that those who elect public officials will have access to and information about what those public officials are doing,” he said.

The Sine Die 2017 edition of Georgia Legislative Week in Review with Aaron Gould Sheinin, Kristina Torres and the Phrase of the Week by James Salzer. Video by Bob Andres /

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