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Are we protecting South Carolinians?

When I speak with South Carolinians about what happens at the State House, citizens are shocked that each Year we must fight the rollback of important environmental protections that protect public health and give us the opportunity to hold polluters accountable. This week I am both disappointed and heartened by actions in the House of Representatives.

CVSC has been working in the House to improve dam safety regulations as this State article so eloquently describes, especially in the wake of numerous dam failures last Year.  Speaker Lucas stated in the article that “It appeared that dams were not being regulated or classified correctly,” Lucas said. “We just really wanted to take a look at how we were doing things and see if there was a way to do it better.” Accordingly, we have supported DHEC’s dam safety reform bill (H.4565) by bringing experts on dam safety and dam removal to subcommittee hearings and answering questions about the bill. In an extremely disappointing turn of events, Members of the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee are now working to weaken the existing law rather than strengthen it.  We can and should do better to protect our citizens, not play politics with the health and welfare of our citizens.

I am heartened to support the efforts of our friends at the Sierra Club and SC Environmental Law Project who are introducing a suite of bills to proactively protect South Carolinians:

Environmental Bill of Rights (H.4984) – Introduced by Rep. Neal and others, this Joint Resolution in the House Judiciary Committee will put a referendum on the ballot in November to allow citizens’ to vote on amending the State Constitution to grant standing for individuals to conserve and protect the environment. It also grants authority to local governments to enact environmental regulations more protective than state law. Please encourage your Representative to support this effort.

Citizens’ Environmental Property Rights (H. 4985) – Introduced by Rep. Neal and others, this bill in the House Ag and Natural Resources Committee will require an applicant who applies for a permit, license, or other action of the DHEC which may give rise to a contested case shall provide personal notice to all adjacent, adjoining, and affected landowners. It also prevents trespassing for surveying on private property without expressed consent and reinforces the need for public notice and due process for applications to use publicly held property.

We cannot grow and prosper as a state if we sacrifice our public health and beautiful environment in the process. I hope you’ll join me in supporting these efforts. We’ll be advocating for these actions in the House at our Lobby Day next week. Please RSVP.

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