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January 31st, 2022
By Megan Chase
The legislative kickoff month of January has come and gone, with surprising snow/ice days and quick movement on several bills we're following. Read below for a breakdown of news from the Statehouse.
Missed last week's update? Click here to get caught up on melting plastics and the Conservation Senate Briefing.
It’s no surprise that South Carolina faces challenges from rapid growth and a changing climate — more intense precipitation events in the Upstate, sea-level rise and marsh migration on the coast, and rising temperatures throughout the state. Land protection has been identified by state leaders as a means to both preserve our unique natural heritage and increase our state’s climate resilience (not to mention the economic benefits of protecting drinking water, fisheries and habitat, public recreation areas, and working farmlands).
Currently, around 3 million acres of land in SC is protected, which accounts for around 15% of our state, and 2 million of that is public land. To achieve the goals outlined by the SC Office of Resilience as well as the Governor’s 2019 Floodwater Commission Report, our land trusts, municipalities, agencies, and industries must ramp up the rate of land protection.
Fortunately, there are several bills and funding requests to help make progress this legislative session:
Agency Funding Requests
With almost $3 billion in surplus dollars and $2.4 billion in federal covid relief, state agencies have requested funding to make "generational investments with respect to land conservation." In this year’s state budget agencies requested:
Our state’s land conservation goals will require these tools to build the network of resilient protected lands throughout the state. This legislative session, we support these bills and funding requests and we may even see other creative funding solutions introduced in the coming weeks. Stay tuned.
Legislators on the Senate Medical Affairs Committee need to hear from you!
S.219 – the joint resolution to limit toxic PFAS chemicals in our drinking water – is scheduled for a hearing in Medical Affairs this Thursday at 10 am (watch that hearing here). Some Upstate senators have not heard anything from their constituents about this bill, so now is the time to ask your legislators to support this joint resolution!
Use this action alert to contact your legislator.
The Eminent Domain bill (H.3527) that would place long-needed agency oversight and guardrails on private, unregulated petroleum pipelines was recommitted back to its subcommittee Wednesday during a full House Ag hearing after stakeholders and lawmakers voiced concerns about last-minute changes made to the bill. You can watch how the conversation unfolded here.
The Wind Energy Bill (H.4831), filed by Greenville's Rep. Jason Elliot, sailed through the House LCI subcommittee and full committee last week and is headed to the House floor! As a reminder, this bill 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.
Until next week...
State Policy Director
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