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January 24th, 2022
By Megan Chase
As expected, Week 2 was a whirlwind of activity in committee meetings and on the House and Senate floors. Read below for the breakdown of news from the Statehouse, but first, please help us take action to protect South Carolina residents from toxic forever chemicals in our drinking water.
Click here to catch up on last week’s Update where we did a deep dive on the budget.
Last week’s scheduled Senate Medical Affairs committee hearing on S.219 — the joint resolution to limit toxic PFAS chemicals in our drinking water — was postponed, so now is the time to ask your legislators to support this legislation!
You can learn more about the effects these toxic “forever chemicals” have caused in communities throughout South Carolina by watching this subcommittee hearing from last December where UF, conservation partners, and affected residents presented testimony in favor of this legislation. UF is currently working to characterize the risk and extent of contamination in the Upstate.
If you believe our state should prioritize public health and protect citizens from these dangerous chemicals, please reach out to senators on the Senate Medical Affairs Committee and ask them to support this bipartisan joint resolution.
Conversation with Conservationists
I had the pleasure of presenting on PFAS at the Conservation Coalition Senate Briefing last Wednesday. In addition to discussions on drinking water contaminants, this year’s Briefing highlighted funding for our natural resource management agencies (DNR, DHEC, Office of Resilience) and prioritizing land protection through legislative and creative funding mechanisms. Even though it was a busy day for lawmakers, Senate President Thomas Alexander briefly joined us to hear from environmental advocates.
Missed the Briefing? You can watch it here on the Statehouse Video Archives page. Scroll down to January 19, 10:30 am – “Conversation with the Conservationists.”
Pyrolysis bill passes House and Senate
The bill that could usher a wave of plastics pyrolysis facilities to our state (S. 525) is on its way to the Governor’s desk after it was passed out of its conference committee last week. The bill now requires financial assurances in the form of a bond to cover the cost of environmental cleanup, however, this requirement sunsets in five years. This gives us — and more importantly, DHEC — the chance to assess the risks and environmental compliance history of the industry. If we find that these facilities continue to cause environmental damage, like at this pyrolysis facility that caught fire in Indiana, we can revisit the need for additional protections. Thanks to diligent work by our partners and compromises offered in both the House and Senate, we now have basic protections from these facilities — something no other US state has been able to accomplish.
Two good bills advance
Your voice was heard! The Mining Bill (H.3892) from last week’s action alert passed out of a House Agriculture subcommittee. This bill would prohibit DHEC from permitting mines within two miles of public parks and greenspace. The original language included buffers for landfills as well, but advocates added an amendment to remove solid waste facilities from the bill due to existing permitting limitations. You can still use this Action Center to ask your representative to support this legislation as it progresses through the full House Ag committee.
The Eminent Domain bill (H.3527) that would place long-needed agency oversight and guardrails on private, unregulated petroleum pipelines also passed out of the House Ag subcommittee. This is a huge step forward for protecting property rights from eminent domain abuse and it creates a process for reporting and cleaning up pipeline spills.
Greenville’s Rep. Jason Elliot introduced a bill (H.4831) last week that would direct the Department of Commerce to conduct an economic development study regarding offshore wind energy infrastructure with the goal of creating a roadmap to attract the offshore wind industry to our state. Already, the bill is gaining support among Upstate representatives and has a House LCI hearing scheduled on Wednesday at 10 am.
As we discussed last week, the House Ways and Means Committee is focused on putting together the House version of the budget over the next couple of weeks. There will be plenty of budget subcommittee hearings this week, but we’re particularly interested in the one that will hear from the Conservation Bank. You can watch the Bank make their budget request for the year here — also at 10 am on Wednesday.
Until next week...
State Policy Director
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