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The Santee Cooper “Slowdown”

First and foremost, kudos to you!

We are succeeding in building bipartisan momentum to ensure a safe and healthy environment for families in South Carolina. From the commitment to conserving 30% of South Carolina land by 2030 to their dedication to making sure that our state’s energy generation is clean and affordable, our lawmakers are eager to take action.

But, we can’t afford to rest. We are inching closer and closer to the end of session in May, and there’s a lot left to be done. Read on to learn more about what we’ve been up to at the State House.

What happened last week?

The Future of Santee Cooper: The much anticipated report on the future of Santee Cooper by the Department of Administration is out! Delivered to the Senate’s Finance and House’s Ways and Means Committees last week, the bodies will be consumed with debate and discussion on the future of the utility.

We’ll share more as it comes out, but the quick summary is that all the proposals fall well short of moving us to a 100% clean energy economy that lowers bills, reduces air pollution, and creates thousands of clean energy jobs. In fact, all the proposals keep some of Santee Cooper’s dirtiest and most expensive facilities running for at least the next 20 Years.

Thankfully, our work has only started on this issue. As legislators weigh these options, we are pushing for a commitment to a 100% clean energy future. Coverage of the report and its release can be found here.

Even More Energy Reform: As session progresses, legislators are continuing to look for ways to hold utilities accountable. Last week, Reps. Wooten and Ott introduced H.5232 to prevent utilities from charging ratepayers for the costs of utility lobbyists, political expenses, image-related public relations, and more.

Land Protection: To balance growth and development with the protection of our natural resources, experts have recommended protecting 30% of the world’s lands and oceans by 2030. Now, South Carolina legislators are showing bipartisan support for this ambitious goal in the Palmetto State. Last week, Rep. Cogswell and others introduced H.5125 as a companion to Sen. Sheheen’s bill in the Senate. With 19 bipartisan sponsors in the House and 4 in the Senate, these bills are picking up steam.

Tainted Water: The Toxic Water Prevention Bill – H.4718 by Rep. J.A. Moore and S.1111 by Sen. Thomas McElveen – seeks to establish rules for a toxic contaminant recently discovered in South Carolina. The bill would require DHEC to set limits for the amount of these chemicals – PFAS and PFOS – in our drinking water. The Post and Courier recently wrote about the discovery of this dangerous chemical in contaminated water near Shaw Air Force Base.

What’s happening this week?

The Santee Cooper Slowdown: Senators will spend very little time in session over the next few weeks as they dig into the Santee Cooper proposals in the Senate Finance Committee. At the same time, the House Ways and Means Committee will be dealing with both Santee Cooper and the state budget.

As a result, it looks unlikely that other bills will move forward in either chamber for a while.

As these committees ramp up hearings and conversations on Santee Cooper, we’ll be sure to keep you posted. As legislators dig into the Santee Cooper bids, please take a moment to sign our petition calling for a clean energy future.

You can be sure that we’ll be watching this process closely and amplifying your voice to ensure that legislators choose a path forward that expands clean energy in South Carolina, reduces pollution, and creates clean energy jobs.

Offshore Drilling, Energy Reform, Plastic Bags and More: As noted above, things are expected to slow way down in the House and Senate with the Santee Cooper report’s release. That means that good bills like the offshore drilling ban and various energy reform efforts will likely be on pause for a while.

But – on the bright side – bad bills like the Anti-Home Rule (Plastic Bag) Bill, will also likely be on the back burner.

If anything changes over the next week or we see an opportunity to advance some key pro-conservation legislation, we’ll send you a special action alert.

New Date for Conservation Lobby Day: Our SC Conservation Coalition Lobby Day and Oyster Roast will now be on Tuesday, March 24th. Remember, this is an all-day event with lobby training, lobbying at the Statehouse, and an evening oyster roast. You don’t want to miss it! Stay tuned for more information.

In the meantime, don’t forget to stop by our Action Center. Thank you for helping us advocate for conservation at the Statehouse.

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