It feels as if this year’s legislative session has flown by. Nonetheless, with only three weeks remaining in this session, the South Carolina conservation community continues to be busy. From fighting unnecessary pyrolysis legislation to engaging in the possible split of the Department of Health and Environmental Control, the next few weeks will be significant as we continue to preserve and to protect the beautiful South Carolina we love.
What Happened Last Week
Santee Cooper - After three, full days of passionate debate from state leaders in the Senate, we’re one step closer to settling the future of Santee Cooper. With a 44–1 vote, the Senate approved a reform package for the state’s public utility which includes requirements for studying clean energy and coal plant retirement, Public Service Commission review and approval of resource plans, provisions for an equitable transition for communities and workers surrounding coal plants, considerations for diversity in Board appointments, increased regulatory oversight by the Office of Regulatory Staff, and other things. You can read more about it here.
Because the Senate passed S.464 after the crossover deadline, they amended H.3194 to include their bill language because the Santee Cooper bills are so similar, and H.3194 can pass into law this year. Now, the House will review the amendments to H.3194 and decide whether or not they agree with the Senate or want to work out changes in a conference committee. We’ll keep you posted as this issue moves closer to the finish line!
Electric Vehicles – S.304 passed out of a House Labor, Commerce, and Industry Subcommittee. This bill establishes the Joint Committee on the Electrification of Transportation. Between the House and Senate, the joint committee will have eight members: two appointed by the Senate chairman of Finance, two appointed by the Senate chairman of Judiciary, two appointed by the House chairman of Ways and Means, and two appointed by the House chairman of Labor, Commerce, and Industry. Making recommendations to the General Assembly, the joint committee will be charged to study the environmental impact, economic and customer challenges, and any issues that impede the development in infrastructure.
Nurdles – A conservation favorite, S.596 overwhelmingly passed out of the Senate with a 42-1 vote. We are excited to see this bill move through the House next year. Thank your Senator for protecting our waterways from plastic pellet pollution!
Pyrolysis – Last week, bill S.525 was taken up in a House Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs Subcommittee. Unfortunately, after passionate testimony from our own, John Tynan, and from our conservation partners, S.525 passed out of the subcommittee with a 5-2 vote. It should be noted that Representatives Shedron Williams, Kambrell Garvin, and Randy Ligon offered strong comments – appealing to their colleagues to fully deliberate and discuss the impacts of this bill.
S.525 will be debated in full committee today immediately after adjournment of the House.
What to Expect This Week
DHEC Reform – With the issue of Santee Cooper dominating the Senate floor last week, a Senate Medical Affairs Subcommittee canceled its meeting for the third week in a row to discuss S.2 - a bill that will split apart the Department of Health and Environmental Control and create an Environmental Permitting Agency. The rescheduled meeting is tomorrow at 9:30 am.
We are interested to see how and if this bill moves out of subcommittee and how they’re going to handle further testimony, as it has already been tentatively scheduled to be taken up in full committee on Thursday, April 29th at 9 am. You can watch it here. We will keep you updated on S.2 as it continues to progress through the Senate.
Waste Tire Facilities - Introduced by Representative Sylleste Davis, H.3222 addresses the troubling issue of stockpiled tire waste that burdens many communities and our environment. It will also educate users of waste tire facilities so that these users know who is operating according to the law – allowing users to support good actors instead of bad actors.
H.3222 passed out of the House in February and will be taken up in a Senate Medical Affairs Subcommittee tomorrow at 9 am. Tune in here.
As we need help at the State House these last few weeks of the legislative year, we’ll let you know how you can act. Thank you again for your support.