This week was a mix of positive developments on priority energy issues (spoiler – both energy competition bills are now introduced) and negative developments as a Senate Subcommittee moved to roll back dam safety protections.
We also officially “kicked off” the session with our annual legislative reception. If you weren’t able to make it, don’t fret. There are still more opportunities to join us in Columbia and connect with your legislator. Save the date for these upcoming events:
- Legislative Breakfast with the Conservation Coalition on February 21.
- Lobby Day and Oyster Roast with the Conservation Coalition on March 19.
And now on to the Hotlist updates…
Here’s what happened this past week:
- Energy: The energy competition bills are filed! Last week, Senator Tom Davis introduced S.332 – the Clean Energy Access Act. This week, Rep. Peter McCoy and a long list of bipartisan co-sponsors filed H.3659 – the Energy Freedom Act and the companion bill to the Senate version. These bills take a comprehensive approach to injecting competition into the energy marketplace and achieve many of the goals of the 100 Days Clean Energy Agenda.
- Dam Safety: A Senate Agriculture Subcommittee moved to roll back dam safety protections this week. In a short-sighted effort to “provide relief” to a few dam owners, the Subcommitee supported removing more than 1,600 dams from the Dam Safety Program. This means over 2/3 of the dams currently in the program would no longer be monitored and inspected by the State.Over 70 dams have failed across South Carolina since 2015 – destroying lives, property, and infrastructure. In light of the damage we remember all too well, we could not agree more with Gerrit Jobsis at American Rivers when he stated at the hearing “Our response should not be to weaken our dam law. Our response should be to strengthen that.’’
Thankfully, there’s not a hearing on these dam safety rollbacks next week - giving time for some of our conservation champions in the Senate to work on this issue. As soon as we hear of a new development and a need to take action, you’ll be the first to know.
The week ahead:
- Energy: This coming week we’ll hit the 25 day mark in the 100 day push to pass clean energy policies that will save jobs and reduce power bills by injecting competition into the energy sector.We still need your help to elevate this critical issue. If you haven’t already contacted your legislator, you can use this form to send a message to your state lawmakers asking them to take action on energy competition in the first 100 days. If you have already sent that message, thank you. But you can take one more step and use this link to make a quick phone call to your lawmakers to really make your point hit home.
As you can see, we’ve been busy. As always, you can continue to follow our weekly Hotlist and more opportunities to take action here.