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Melting Plastics and Burning Garbage

Do you remember when I said in last week’s update that now, more than ever, your voice is needed? Well, it’s time.

Take action now to help stop two dangerous bills that seek to weaken core environmental protections in South Carolina.

Even while our legislators continued to labor upon their response to the pandemic and the state’s vaccine rollout last week, two dangerous pieces of legislation started moving quickly in both chambers.

Melting Plastics and Burning Garbage in the House
Tomorrow after the House adjourns, the House Environmental Affairs Subcommittee will take up bill H.3753. You can watch it here. This bill seeks to exempt facilities that melt plastics from state solid waste rules. This means accumulated plastic waste at these facilities will be excused from solid waste regulations. To make matters worse, the bill also opens the door for an 800% increase in burning of trash in South Carolina by changing the existing limit for incineration facilities from 600 to 5,000 tons of trash per day.

So, not only will H.3753 allow unlimited melting of plastics for fuel; but, it would also allow a huge increase in the amount of trash that can be burned in SC. Both of these present grave risks for storage, handling, and disposal of plastics, trash, and toxic chemicals involved in these processes, posing huge health and safety risks to our communities.

Melting Plastics in the Senate
Also, on Thursday, February 11th at 10 am, a Senate Medical Affairs Subcommittee will take up bill S.525 – a bill that seeks to grant similar exemptions  to pyrolysis and advanced recycling facilities. “Advanced Recycling” is just a decorative way to say melting plastics. The bill is similar to the House bill and keeps the pyrolysis industry from having to abide by existing solid waste rules that were designed to address harmful issues that can arise from waste storage, processing, and management.

Both of these bills are unacceptable. Under South Carolina law, pyrolysis and incinerator facilities are already allowed to operate under existing Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) regulations. So, why does this industry continue to pursue manipulating our state’s law? Why not operate under existing regulations?

Tell your legislator that you do not want pyrolysis to operate outside the law. Tell your legislator that South Carolinians do not want out of state trash burned in our state. Tell your legislator that you oppose H.3753 and S.525!

Dirty, Tainted Water: Joint resolutions S.219 and H.3514 continue to not move out their respective Senate and House committees. These resolutions require DHEC to regulate toxic “forever chemicals”, like PFAS, in our drinking water. You may remember that PFAS are a group of highly toxic, man-made chemicals that have been manufactured and used for decades in waterproof, stain resistant, and non-stick products, as well as firefighting foam across the country – poisoning our drinking water and harming children and families.

Tell your legislator that everyone deserves clean drinking water and that you want DHEC to take every precaution to protect the health of our communities by limiting these chemicals. Ask your legislator to sign on as a co-sponsor of S.219 and H.3514.

While I understand that our state remains in one of the greatest public health crises we have ever seen, we must not take our eyes off of the ball of holding our state leaders accountable for ensuring a clean and safe environment for all. We must continue to ensure that we leave a healthy environment for our children’s children.

As always, thank you for all that you do!

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