HOTLIST – The Senate Logjam and Protecting Our Coast from Offshore Drilling
Folks that work in and around the Statehouse (me included) are starting to grow weary. It’s that time of Year when everyone is jostling to get their legislation finished before 5 p.m. on sine die (the last day of the legislative Year) on May 9. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
We’ve got good news on offshore drilling, but our coast is still at risk. We are also hopeful that this week will bring a vote on clean energy in the Senate. When the days in the lobby get long, I know that you have my back and are ready to take action when it’s needed. Thank you.
What happened last week:
- Offshore Drilling: In a bit of federal news, the head of the Department of Interior announced last week that the Administration is “indefinitely sidelining” plans to open the Atlantic to offshore drilling. This was good news, but the DOI immediately started backpeddaling in order to leave the door open. It is vital that we stay vigilant and keep working toward solutions that will permanently protect our coast.Our state and local officials have pushed back hard on drilling plans because of your pressure…and that has paid off. Well done!We need to keep momentum up and push for action at the state level. We know there is overwhelming bipartisan opposition to drilling in South Carolina – remember the 40-4 vote in the SC Senate during budget week? So, we need to take that bipartisan opposition and finish the job on offshore drilling and protect South Carolina once and for all.
- Melting Plastics (pyrolysis): H.4152, the bill that will allow pyrolysis or the melting of plastic waste in SC, passed out of the House this week.Even though we are past crossover, legislators can still take up bills on the calendar in their chamber. I was hoping that after meeting with Rep. Hiott, the American Chemistry Council, and some of our conservation partners on Tuesday we could find a path forward for pyrolysis in SC to occur without opening dangerous loopholes in our solid waste laws.Unfortunately, Representatives Hiott and Hixon decided to move forward on a vote on H.4152 on Thursday — before we had come to an agreement or heard back from the industry with answers to our questions.
While the bill ultimately passed 63-27, several Representatives voiced their concerns and introduced amendments to improve the bill. While these efforts failed, we’re thankful for the work of Reps Powers Norrell, Clary, Trantham, and Wheeler to improve the bill. And thanks to the 27 Reps that voted against it (please note that Rep Moore missed the vote, but made a note in the journal that he also was opposed to the bill).
- Senate Logjam: The Senate spent most of the week discussing the future of Santee Cooper, creating a logjam that prevented any other bills from moving (including the Energy Freedom Act). While we haven’t weighed in on the complex issue of Santee Cooper, it is an important topic for the future of energy in the state. Whatever the outcome of the debate, we believe that any utility in the state should embrace a clean energy future and move us away from dirty fossil fuels.But more to the point, because the debate kept any other item from coming up last week, it makes progress on the Energy Freedom Act in this coming week even more critical given that there are only 6 legislative days remaining.
The week ahead:
- Offshore Drilling: This week, the bills addressing the permitting of onshore infrastructure for offshore drilling (there are two — one good – H.3087, one bad – H.3471) will be debated by the House Agriculture and Natural Resources committee on Tuesday, April 30, one hour after adjournment. This may be gearing up for a House floor fight before the end of session this Year. Please remind your Representative that there is no place for offshore drilling along SC’s coast.
- Clean Energy: Now that the Senate is done with the budget, it’s time to vote on the Energy Freedom Act (H.3659). With only 6 legislative days left until the end of this Year’s session, we need to Senators to prioritize this vote and act! I know you’ve taken action and sent emails already this Year, but your efforts have gotten us so close! It’s time to finish this!
As always, you can continue to follow our weekly hotlist and more opportunities to take action at www.cvsc.beamandhinge.com.