Tomorrow’s the Big Day! It’s Conservation Lobby Day – and the timing couldn’t be better. Whether you can be at the Statehouse in person this week, or you’re taking action from the comfort of home, you have several options to make a difference. Either way – we thank you. Now, let’s dive in to what’s happening at the Statehouse.
What happened last week:
- Dam Safety: As you may have seen in The State newspaper last week (SC senators move to weaken dam safety laws in a state where dams break every year), the dam safety bill (S.107) that will exempt low hazard dams from safety monitoring passed out of the Senate Ag Committee. Let’s be clear: low hazard dams are not no hazard dams. Once they leave the dam safety program, they can only be reassessed when there’s a complaint reported to DHEC.That’s not good for public safety. How are citizens in danger supposed to know if they should complain to DHEC to protect their family from a failing dam? Again, this is bad policy.
Luckily, Senators are interested in working on the bill more on the floor. Let’s help them understand that this is a poorly written bill and that the best way to improve our dam safety program is to strengthen and clarify the law, not weaken it.
Please also join us in thanking Senators Harpootlian, Talley, and Sabb for voting against the bill in Committee. Take action now and ask your Senator to vote no on S.107.
- Energy Competition: The Energy Freedom Act, S.332 (the companion to H.3659), was discussed in a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee… again. To be frank, it was an attempt by Duke to cast more doubt on the House compromise that passed unanimously in February.Edison Electric Institue (the investor-owned utility trade association chaired by Lynn Goode, the CEO of Duke Energy) brought in a lawmaker from Arizona to talk to our Senators. The Arizona lawmaker and Duke talked about their desire to eliminate the contract length for large scale solar projects. In contrast, the House bill (H.3659) would establish a 10-year minimum term that would allow solar projects to compete with utility monopolies and earn return on their investment.
Duke already slow-walks interconnections for large scale solar projects in the Upstate, is trying to triple its base rate on customers, and now doesn’t want to provide a stable contract length for large scale solar companies. Now, they’re trying to stymie solar growth. Let’s show them they can’t!
It’s time for good legislation to move forward that injects more energy competition in South Carolina.
We have another subcommittee hearing scheduled on March 20th. Thankfully, this subcommittee hearing will also include the House version of the bill (H.3659) that has also already made it half way to becoming law. The Duke net metering cap expired Friday making this even more urgent for Upstate solar customers and thousands of solar jobs. We’ll be pushing Senators to act this week at Lobby Day – can you help us?
The week ahead:
- Plastics and Home Rule: Wednesday, the day after lobby day, the Senate LCI subcommittee will hear more testimony on S.394. If passed, this bill would take away the ability of communities to pass local ordinances to help limit the use and impact of plastic bags and containers.Supporters of this bad bill took nearly an hour at the last subcommittee meeting misleading Senators and using scare tactics. This meeting is our chance to push back.
We need you to keep pushing your Senators to vote no.
I look forward to seeing you tomorrow at Lobby Day and working together on these critical issues. I’m also really looking forward to the fresh South Carolina oysters at the Conservation Coalition Oyster Roast tomorrow night, and we really hope you can join us.
As always, you can continue to follow our weekly hotlist and more opportunities to take action at www.cvsc.org.