State House Update: Budgets, Coastal Protection, and Waste
It’s an exciting time at the State House. Thank you for your continued interest and action in protecting the South Carolina you love.
After a long week of budget deliberations, the House approved the Ways & Means cap on Conservation Bank authorization at the same cap as last Year of $9.8M in the coming fiscal Year. The proviso that sends Bank funds in excess of the authorized amount to DNR for the operation and maintenance of wildlife management areas was not contested. The Senate has thus far authorized $16M, which will be addressed in their vote on the budget in the coming weeks.
Our focus remains on Sen. Campsen’s Conservation Bank Reauthorization and Wetlands Conservation Act that has gathered 24 sponsors.
Saving the Stay
Two of our Conservation Coalition partners, CCL’s Anne Peterson-Hutto and Sierra Club’s Bob Guild, testified this week in Senate Judiciary Subcommittee in opposition to S.165, elimination of the Automatic Stay. In state permitting decisions, if there are environmental concerns leading to a legal appeal of a permit, SC state law allows an automatic “stay” to be put into place disallowing forward movement on the permit while a court decision is being made. The stay is not a stoppage; it is merely the ‘pause’ button until a decision is made. This makes sense: if a project is going to do more harm than good we shouldn’t allow the harm to begin before having weighed its merits, rather we should pause and measure the matter before beginning.
We are closely following renewed efforts to reopen the Barnwell nuclear waste site. A bill has not been filed in the Senate yet, but we are already advocating against any changes to the Atlantic Compact. Please check out several recent editorials on the issue: The State, the Rock Hill Herald, and the Aiken Standard.
Sen. Bennett recently introduced S.522, which would remove most of Dorchester Co. from, loosening environmental regulations. Dana Beach from the Coastal Conservation League testified this week at the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee about the importance of Dorchester Co. remaining within the Coastal Zone area under OCRM’s Coastal Zone Management Act.
Please help us support H.3378 (Rep. Herbkersman), which heads to the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee this coming week. This bill will implement the recommendations of DHEC’s Blue Ribbon Committee on Shoreline Management (BRC) which was charged with reviewing SC’s landmark Beachfront Management Act and recommending regulations to help guide the stewardship of beachfront and estuarine shorelines.
SC Rivers Forever
As a member of the SC Rivers Forever Coalition, we worked with our partners and legislative champions to introduce H.3564, to reform the Surface Water Withdrawal Act. We propose in H.3564 to treat all large users pulling water from our rivers the same. We should have a fair system that doesn’t pick the winners and the losers. Please ask your Representative to support H.3564 and check out our campaign: www.scriversforever.org.
We are also a member of the Conservation Coalition, and hope you’ll check out our priority issues and action alerts at our website.
Please save the date for the 12th Annual Conservation Lobby Day and Legislative Reception on April 15th! To review the schedule and RSVP, please visit conservationlobbyday.eventbrite.com