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State House Update: Waste, Land, and Water

It’s an exciting time at the State House. Thank you for your continued interest and action in protecting the South Carolina you love.

Thank you for all of your action this last week speaking with and emailing your Senators. Unfortunately, both S.228 (DHEC Board Review) and S.229 (Polluter Amnesty) passed out of the Medical Affairs Committee. One of our champions, Sen. Kevin Johnson (D-Clarendon), placed a minority report on S.229, which will make it harder for the bill to reach a floor vote. We will continue to work to also slow down S.228 from reaching a floor vote in the Senate. If you haven’t reached out to your State Senator yet about these two bills, please do so here. We oppose both bills because they will erode our ability to hold polluters accountable.

We will provide testimony this week in a Senate Judiciary sub-committee on another regulatory roll-back: 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. This allowance has been instrumental in leading to environmentally detrimental permits being overturned in the past. We will be asking you for action on this important issue.

We have a busy week approaching with several options to engage in the Offshore Drilling discussion in Columbia and Charleston. Please join us and follow this important issue at Don’t Drill SC.

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.

Green Tie Champion Sen. Campsen introduced S.519, the “Conservation Bank Reauthorization and Wetlands Conservation Act,” this week which will strengthen the stability of the Bank by increasing the amount of funds from deed stamps that go to the Bank, provide more protection for wetlands and Carolina Bays, remove of the Bank’s sunset, and amend the Bank’s “death clause.” 

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!

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