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Hotlist: January 22

Hey Friends!

Last week at the Statehouse was cold. So, so cold. Despite that, Ron DeSantis held a press conference on Tuesday in the lobby and noted that it was practically balmy compared to the weather in Iowa. Despite the temperature, the vibe in Columbia, at least for me, has felt somewhat frantic. Your government relations team has done a lot of running around to ensure that protecting our air, land, and water remains top of mind for the General Assembly. Let’s dive in:

Protecting Working Agricultural Lands: On Tuesday, a Senate Finance subcommittee heard testimony on the Working Agricultural Lands bill (H.3951). The committee was very excited to hear about this potential funding source to protect working farmlands at risk for overdevelopment. They passed the bill on to the full committee, and I feel pretty good about its chances of crossing the finish line! This bill provides a crucial tool to help farmers keep a treasured legacy in family hands for generations to come. 

Budgeting: A Ways and Means subcommittee heard testimony from the Public Service Commission (PSC) and the Office of Regulatory Staff (ORS) on their budget requests. The PSC is the quasi-judicial agency that is tasked with regulating utilities and making crucial decisions over utility generation plans and rates. ORS is tasked with representing the public interest of South Carolina in these proceedings. Here are some highlights from their presentation: 

PSC

  • The PSC requested no additional funding from the Ways and Means Committee. That is disappointing because they need adequate resources for resources like expert staff to assist commissioners with complex decisions.
  • They highlighted a renewable energy integration study they are currently undertaking to address any challenges posed by integrating these resources into the current electricity grid.  Commissioners will hold a hearing on February 21 to discuss who should perform the study and what it should cover. 
  • If you want to learn more about battery storage and the role it plays with renewable energy, join our Battery Storage Virtual Coffee Hour on January 29th. See the Events section of this email to register!

ORS

  •  Did not ask for any additional money either.
  • They did tout the cost savings ORS achieved in one of the mid-year fuel adjustment cases brought forward. Remember how expensive your utility bills have gotten? A 20% increase over the last year in some cases! Interestingly, they highlighted the extreme volatility of natural gas in 2022 but seem to have no concern over the future natural gas facility proposed by Dominion and Santee Cooper. The math ain’t mathing…

Last week, we participated in the Conservation Coalition’s Senate Briefing. This annual event gives members of the conservation community an opportunity to address their senators directly with the issues facing our state. Speakers addressed the health and safety of our waterways, our concerns regarding our overreliance and overinvestment in fossil fuel generation, and our need to continue to focus on land protection. The event was well attended by a diverse array of Senators. A recording of the briefing can be found here—bonus points to those of you who can hear the audible horror of the audience when our own John Brooker warned Senators about the state heading toward another VC Summer fiasco

Finally, Senator Tom Davis shared online that he was looking forward to going through his omnibus energy bill, S.909, section by section with stakeholders. I look forward to that opportunity and can’t wait to hear Dominion and Santee Cooper explain why they are rushing toward building an expensive and risky natural gas plant in Colleton County and side-stepping regulatory safeguards and environmental protections in the process.


Updates & Actions

  • Energy
    • Here’s a reminder about H.3842, the Alternative Fuel Tax Credit. This bill incentivizes taxpayers to install electric vehicle charging infrastructure by extending an income tax credit for a portion of the installation costs. This bill has passed the House but is sitting on the Senate Finance Committee.
      Take action: Tell Senators that South Carolina has a future for electric vehicles.
  • Land, Water, Ocean
    • If you remember, last May, CVSC secured $300,000 for WeGOJA to conduct a feasibility study for a Rosenwald School State Park Network. That study kicked off this week after the hiring of architectural design firm Earth Designs LLC (who worked on the Black River State Park) and Oral Historian Val Littlefield (a specialist in Southern African-American Education) last Fall. The work to envision a Rosenwald State Park begins now! We will keep you updated as the study develops!
  • Events
    • CVSC Legislative Kick-Off Reception: Join CVSC tomorrow from 5:30 to 8:00 pm at Bourbon in Columbia as we welcome partners, voters, and legislators back for another year of protecting the South Carolina we love. Click here to RSVP.
    • Battery Storage Virtual Coffee Hour:Join CVSC on Monday, January 29, at 2:30pm, as we chat with Aaron Schwartz from RMI, who will share his expertise on battery storage. Bring all your battery questions! Click here to RSVP. 
    • SCCC Lobby Day & Oyster Roast: Join the SC Conservation Coalition, a statewide alliance of over 40 conservation organizations, on Tuesday, February 6th, for our annual Lobby Day and Oyster Roast!  Be a part of making an impact at the State House while networking and celebrating conservation with fellow volunteers, staff, and elected officials. Click here to RSVP.
  • Elections
    • CVSC is excited to announce our endorsement of Eduardo Curry II for House District 109! His commitment to environmental protection and his vision for a greener, healthier South Carolina resonate with our core values at CVSC. We believe that Eduardo’s experience working on environmental issues and years working with youth in the community offers a unique perspective and will enhance the quality of life for all South Carolinians. This special election takes place on January 30th, but early voting has already started! Vote weekdays now through January 26 at your county’s early voting location.

Highlights & Shoutouts

Check out our Bill Tracker: Curious about the legislative moves shaping the environmental landscape in South Carolina? Check out our online bill tracker! This user-friendly tool will help you stay informed about the latest developments in legislative efforts aimed at fostering a clean, safe, and healthy Palmetto State for all.

We’re hiring! CVSC is searching for a few exceptional conservationists to join the team! Could you be our next Lowcountry Political Manager, Government Relations Manager, or Development Director? We invite you to learn more about each role and apply!


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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