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Our Greenville and Spartanburg offices have closed while Upstate Forever staff work from home to help protect the health of each other, our families, and our communities. But while we are not together in the office, we remain together in our continued efforts to protect our region's critical lands, waters, and unique character.

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Legislative Updates 2020: Week 3

February 3rd, 2020
By Shelley Robbins

Saving 30% By 2030

The highlights:

  • Senator Sheheen's audacious, awesome bill package
  • Updates on bills we are following

The details:

There's a saying: GO BIG OR GO HOME. Senator Vincent Sheheen is going big, and that is good news for South Carolina's natural resources. The Senator from Kershaw County announced a package of six bills and three joint resolutions to address the state's most immediate environmental concerns: loss of land to development, plastics pollution and illegal dumping, wildlife trafficking, offshore drilling, and carbon emissions.

  • The first bill S. 1024, or the South Carolina Thirty-By-Thirty Conservation Act, establishes an interagency task force (comprised of the SC Department of Natural Resources, the SC Conservation Bank, and SC Parks, Recreation and Tourism) to identify and implement "enduring conservation measures" that will protect the natural character, resources, and functions of 30% of the state's land and water resources by 2030. Given our rate of development in the Upstate, we have a deep understanding of the urgency conveyed in this bill.
  • The second bill is S. 885, the Black Market Wildlife Trading Bill we outlined here in our first Legislative Update this year (hint: turtles).
  • The third bill, S. 984, requires DHEC to provide public notice of wastewater spills over 5,000 gallons within 24 hours of discovery.
  • The fourth bill, S. 941, addresses plastic "nurdle" pollution along the coast. (A nurdle is a very small pellet of plastic which serves as raw material in the manufacture of plastic products.)
  • The fifth bill, S. 1021, establishes penalties for illegal dumping on private property. (There weren't penalties already?)
  • And the sixth bill, S. 870 is the Senate offshore drilling bill outlined here in our Legislative Update last week. This bill bans state approval of onshore infrastructure that supports seismic testing and offshore drilling. It has many bi-partisan Upstate co-sponsors (Senators Glenn Reese, Floyd Nicholson, Ross Turner, Mike Gambrell, Scott Talley, Karl Allen, and Rex Rice).
  • The three Joint Resolutions are: 
    • S. 1025, requiring state operations to be carbon free by 2050
    • S. 1023, that directs SC DNR and SC DHEC to study and develop a microplastics reduction strategy, and 
    • S. 1022, requiring the state to form a plan to reduce organic waste by 50% by 2025.

While we're on the subject of organic waste, I must acknowledge the Upstate's own Atlas Organics and their Compost House curbside organic waste pick-up program. Atlas is based out of Spartanburg and was the state's first commercial compost facility, so we have options in the Upstate! Disclaimer: I am a Compost House customer and a very proud one indeed. Check them out.

The latest on Bills we are following

RTO and Market Reform Joint Resolutions discussed here last week: the House version (H. 4940) sailed through the Labor, Commerce and Industry subcommittee and heads to full committee. The Senate version (S. 998) will be in subcommittee this Thursday.

The House offshore drilling bill H. 3087 (preventing state approval of onshore infrastructure) awaits a floor vote. It has widespread bi-partisan Upstate support (co-sponsors include Representatives West Cox, Gary Clary, Chandra Dillard, Rosalyn Henderson-Myers, Bobby Cox, Jason Elliott, Ashley Trantham, Max Hyde, Leola Robinson, and Jay West.

House and Senate HOA Solar Access Bills (H. 5011 and S. 1032) have not yet had subcommittee hearings. I discussed those bills here last week.

The Black Market Wildlife Trading Bills (S. 885 and H. 4831) have each had a subcommittee hearing but have not yet been scheduled for full committee.

The notorious Plastics "Ban Ban" bill S. 394 (discussed here last week) is on the contested calendar on the Senate floor, where we hope it will stay. Locally, Spartanburg City Council heard the concerns about plastic pollution from Joyce Harrison on Monday night. We love it when citizens make their voices heard!

ODDS AND ENDS AND ACTIONS:

Would you rather receive these weekly Legislative Updates in your inbox? You can sign up to do so right here. The Legislative Update will hit your mailbox every Sunday evening during session (January through May).

Did your senator or representative do something awesome this week? Tell them! Use this link to find out who represents you, and if you love a bill they are supporting, please let them know. You can also just use the link to tell them what is important to you.

Until next week!

Shelley Robbins
Energy and State Policy Director

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