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Updates on the Budget and Santee Cooper

Whew! I’ve officially been a part of the CVSC team for one month, and what a month it’s been. What’s been so exciting about my first month is having the opportunity to be a part of all of the impactful conservation legislation that’s moving at our statehouse. Even more, it’s been promising to see so many legislators from both sides of the aisle advocating and writing legislation to protect our state’s land and oceans, to regulate our water, and to ensure that our energy generation is clean and affordable.

So, I guess it’s safe to say that if my first month flew by, the next few legislative months will move at lightning speed. That’s why it’s so important that we stay vigilant in our work to protect the quality of our environment and natural resources.

Read about the work that we did last week and what you can expect from us this week.

What happened last week?

The Future of Santee Cooper: The Senate’s Finance Committee had a full week of testimony last week. First up was the Department of Administration and its team of expert consultants, followed by the testimonies of investor owned utility companies NextEra and Dominion. What was apparent from those testimonies was the gravity of deciding Santee Cooper’s future, and it was promising to see lawmakers armed with an arsenal of questions.

You can read more about some of those concerns and how this process will continue in the upcoming weeks in a recent Post and Courier article.

Dirty Water Regulation: Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency announced that it would begin to regulate a class of man-made chemicals (PFAS). DHEC has published a report outlining how they will assess the issue over the next Year and communicate their findings. That’s great news for families in South Carolina. Particularly, this news strengthens the efforts of Rep. J.A. Moore (H.4718) and Sen. Thomas McElveen (S.1111) as they work to require DHEC to set safe limits for the amount of these chemicals in our drinking water.

House Budget Highlights: The House Ways and Means Committee spent last week working on the budget that they’ll send to the House floor for a vote in a couple of weeks. It was a good week for conservation:

  • The Committee recommended funding of the $1.5 million requested by DNR for the Pee Dee Basin portion of the State Water Plan.
  • The Committee also recommended including $18.6 million for the Conservation Bank.

What’s happening this week?

Santee Cooper: With the task of deciding if we sell, reform, or manage Santee Cooper, Senators will continue digging into the Department of Administration’s recommendations in the Senate Finance Committee. Starting today, the House Ways and Means Committee will turn their attention to the future of Santee Cooper with meetings scheduled for the rest of the week. So, expect other legislation to move slower during this time.

All in all, we’ll continue to closely monitor this complicated process. And, as legislators continue to evaluate all proposed options, we’ll also remain earnest in our efforts to push for a commitment to a 100% clean energy future that is equitable and affordable. As always, we’ll continue to keep you posted.

Offshore Drilling: As we shared last week, things are moving very slowly in both the Senate and House. Despite the slowdown, there are now 73 bipartisan cosponsors for H.3087 – Rep. McCoy’s bill to permanently ban drilling of the SC coast. So, with this enormous amount of support, we remain hopeful that it will pass out of the House.

Call your Representative and let them know that you want this bill to become a law in South Carolina. Click here for a script and a patch-through program to connect with your Representative’s office.

Save the Day for Conservation Lobby Day – NEW DATE: After they finish the budget, the House is taking a ‘furlough’ week in March. Because of this new House calendar, 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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