We can’t wait to see you at the Conservation Coalition Lobby Day and Oyster Roast tomorrow. Here’s the registration and schedule for the day. Please come to whatever part of the day is convenient for you. The training at Capital City Club is “sold out,” but you can still come if you’re okay standing at the back.
The House debated the budget last week. The Conservation Bank’s funding was reduced to $5 million. DHEC also got its requested funding for its dam safety program. We will now shift our focus to the Senate for the Bank’s budget and the Reauthorization bill.
Saving the Automatic Stay: If passed, S.105 and H.3565 will weaken citizens’ ability to successfully challenge the government when a citizen believes a permit is incorrectly issued (before it’s finalized). These bills neuter what is known as the Automatic Stay – a pause button that prevents harm from occurring while the permit challenge is considered. The “stay” allows the court to assess the facts and law in order to determine whether the permit was properly granted. The “stay” avoids irreparable harm to an affected party or place before that harm occurs.
This tool may be used by a wide range of entities – conservation groups, wastewater utilities, hospitals, restaurants, and any other entity that must obtain, or may be affected by, a DHEC permit for operation.
The stakes are high in permit challenges, for both an applicant and a challenger. Allowing a permitted activity to begin with a faulty permit or requiring citizens to post high bonds would significantly harm citizens’ ability to successfully challenge the government and unnecessarily increase costs of a project.
Read more about the automatic stay here.
- House Status: A vote on H.3565 as been delayed for weeks, but we expect it to be debated and voted on this coming week. Please keep up the pressure and contact your Representative and ask them to oppose this bill. CVSC will score a vote for this bill as anti-conservation.
Immunity for Industry from Nuisance Suits: S.323 and H.3653 remove the rights of neighboring landowners to take action to ensure the safe and healthy enjoyment of their property. Essentially the bills provide industry a blanket immunity from noise and odor impacts to nearby properties (these, among others, are called nuisance complaints). If these bills pass, citizens will not be able to take action to protect their property from nuisance issues.
Supporters of the bill argue that the bill is intended to prevent an existing industry from being sued if a nearby property is sold and a new resident moves nearby. Existing nuisance laws and court precedent have already established a process for addressing disputes that arise between industries and their neighbors. The current system is not broken and is not being abused and should be maintained.
- Both bills are awaiting votes in the Senate the House this week. Please ask your legislators to oppose these bills.
Dam Safety Reform In October of 2015, rain pummeled South Carolina and over 51 dams across the state burst under the pressure of swollen rivers and creeks. Then, a year later, Hurricane Matthew gave our dams and infrastructure another beating, bringing the total to 70 failed dams. Homes were destroyed. Infrastructure was damaged. Lives were lost. We must protect citizens from failing dams. We support DHEC’s efforts to update our outdated dam safety law and support the agency’s funding request to support the program. Moving forward, we hope that South Carolina can better prepare, secure, and restore our infrastructure to weather the worst storms and protect the South Carolina we love.
H.3218 ensures that DHEC is aware of any transfer of ownership of dams, that dam owners regularly update their contact information with DHEC, provide information on activity related to their dam, and provide the already required emergency action plan to DHEC, downstream homeowners, and emergency access professionals.
- Senate Status: H.3218 passed out of the House in February, but it has yet to have a subcommittee hearing scheduled in the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. Contact your Senator and ask them to encourage the committee to move forward with the Dam Safety Reform Bill.
Please visit our Legislative Action Center for opportunities to contact your legislators.