Home » Hotlist: February 12

Hotlist: February 12

Hey there!

First, I’m blown away by last week’s amazing turnout for our Conservation Coalition Lobby Day. It’s your help and support that really helps legislators keep conservation top-of-mind, and I can’t thank all of you enough for showing up and making a difference. 

Now, that said, let’s dive into what went down downtown.

Something to Celebrate: The Working Agricultural Lands bill heads to the Governor! Despite lots of drama, I’m pleased to report that we have successfully moved H.3951 across the finish line and are one step closer to protecting more working agricultural lands from rampant development. 

Something to Look Forward To: A few weeks ago, two companion bills were introduced requiring permit holders to put signs out next to pipes where their effluent and discharge are allowed to flow into the state’s waterways. I’m honestly a little shocked this isn’t already a requirement, but we’ve got kids splashing around in these areas without any signage to warn folks that there could be a danger. This common-sense reform would also make it easier to pinpoint problems. We support this bill, and I want to applaud Senator Shealy (S.999) and Rep. Hewitt (H.4958) for leading us forward!

Something to Be Wary Of: The Economic Development and Utility Modernization Ad Hoc Committee is getting closer to introducing legislation that would fast-track a joint project between Santee Cooper and Dominion to build a huge, combined cycle gas plant in Colleton County, SC. In addition to a ‘blank check’ for another utility megaproject, provisions in the draft also allow utilities to skip crucial review processes and public input on major utility projects—a horrible idea. The bill has not yet been introduced, but the committee met last week to discuss the proposed language with stakeholders and then amongst themselves. Some questions I would like to pose regarding this project:

  • How much is this project going to cost? We don’t know. What we do know: ratepayers will be on the hook.
  • Where would the pipelines and transmission lines that are needed to support this project go? We don’t know.
  • Are these the same actors that brought you the VC Summer debacle? They sure are!
  • How will the total costs, environmental, and landowner impact be reviewed if the legislation short-circuits crucial regulatory review processes? They won’t! 
  • If we need power so much, are there quicker, cleaner ways to bring it online? You bet! We can deploy solar and battery storage in 2-3 years, whereas a gas plant takes 7-8 years to build.

We expect the bill to drop very soon, and we were promised a subcommittee hearing by the end of the month. Expect a deep dive into this legislation in next week’s hotlist (assuming all goes to plan).

Updates & Actions

Highlights & Shoutouts

  • Meet CVSC’s newest team members!
    • Austin Brown has joined CVSC as our Upstate Political Manager. Austin is preparing to implement robust political campaigns to elect thoughtful and pragmatic leaders, specifically in the Upstate.
    • Erin Siebert has joined our energy team as our Energy Policy Associate. Erin will support our energy team as they fight for an equitable transition to clean energy during this legislative session and beyond.
  • The SC Conservation Coalition’s annual Lobby Day and Oyster Roast
    • Thank you to all of our dedicated partners, advocates, and community members who joined CVSC and the SC Conservation Coalition at the Statehouse this past week for the Coalition’s 21st Annual Lobby Day. Through Lobby Day, participants had the opportunity to meet with their legislators and discuss conservation priorities directly impacting them and their communities. After the event, everyone continued their conversations with lawmakers, enjoyed great food and drinks, and networked with fellow conservationists at a celebratory Oyster Roast.

In the News

Letters: Dominion Energy’s gas plan harmful to the environment | The Post and Courier

Conservationists ask SC lawmakers for energy and agriculture support during Lobby Day | Greenville News 

The Legislative Hotlist is an update from our Senior Vice President of Government Relations & Policy, Meagan Diedolf. Sign up for emails to get the Hotlist delivered directly to your inbox!

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