Every year, Upstate Forever along with many other partners in Conservation, attend the annual SC Conservation Coalition Lobby Day in Columbia, SC, hosted by the Conservation Voters of South Carolina. This important day gives us the opportunity to speak directly with our legislators in the SC State House about issues that are important to the conservation community.
14th Annual Conservation Coalition Lobby Day
There a lot at stake in the Statehouse this year. Please join your Upstate Forever friends for Conservation Coalition Lobby Day and Oyster Roast on March 21! Register for this free event here: https://www.eventbrite.
For more information about Upstate Forever’s work in Legislature, please contact:
Shelley Robbins, Energy and State Policy Manager
(864) 327-0090 ext. 104
March 14 – Here’s our report from CVSC lobbyist Rebecca Haynes. She’s on the ground in Columbia every day fighting to protect our natural resources. After Rebecca’s update, there’s a link to a great article about the latest on gasoline and diesel pipeline legislation in SC and Georgia. Following that is an energy legislation update from the SC Clean Energy Business Alliance. From Rebecca:
This week in the House will be all about the budget. We are asking our Representatives to support agency funding of DHEC, DNR, and the Conservation Bank; as well as continued support of the Pinewood hazardous waste site. In the meantime, we’ll also be working on the following bills:
Immunity for Industry from Nuisance Suits: S.323 and H.3653 remove the rights of neighboring landowners to take action to ensure the safe and healthy enjoyment of their property. Essentially the bills provide industry a blanket immunity from noise and odor impacts to nearby properties (these, among others, are called nuisance complaints). If these bills pass, citizens will not be able to take action to protect their property from nuisance issues.
Supporters of the bill argue that the bill is intended to prevent an existing industry from being sued if a nearby property is sold and a new resident moves nearby. Existing nuisance laws and court precedent have already established a process for addressing disputes that arise between industries and their neighbors. The current system is not broken and is not being abused and should be maintained.
Dam Safety Reform In October of 2015, rain pummeled South Carolina and over 51 dams across the state burst under the pressure of swollen rivers and creeks. Then, a year later, Hurricane Matthew gave our dams and infrastructure another beating, bringing the total to 70 failed dams. Homes were destroyed. Infrastructure was damaged. Lives were lost. We must protect citizens from failing dams. We support DHEC’s efforts to update our outdated dam safety law and support the agency’s funding request to support the program. Moving forward, we hope that South Carolina can better prepare, secure, and restore our infrastructure to weather the worst storms and protect the South Carolina we love.
H.3218 ensures that DHEC is aware of any transfer of ownership of dams, that dam owners regularly update their contact information with DHEC, provide information on activity related to their dam, and provide the already required emergency action plan to DHEC, downstream homeowners, and emergency access professionals.
And here’s that article about legislation for pipelines carrying liquid petroleum products. The federal rules for natural gas are different. For natural gas, the authority to use eminent domain is granted by the Federal Energy Regulator Commission.
Following energy legislation? Here’s SCCEBA’s latest update:
Senate LCI Committee Approves C-PACE!
Commercial-Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) legislation, S.261 by Senator Alexander, was approved by the Senate Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee on Thursday, March 9! Now the bill will be considered by the full Senate.
The LCI Committee adopted 3 amendments before approving the bill on a voice vote:
Thank you to everyone who reached out to Committee members and offered your support for C-PACE and S.261.
SCCEBA will continue to educate Senators on the merits of C-PACE to ensure two more readings on the bill before April 10—the deadline to cross over to the House of Representatives.
House Ways and Means Committee Holds the Key to Passage of Renewable Energy Jobs and Economic Development Act
The Senate approved S.44, by Senators Greg Gregory (R-Lancaster) and Glenn Reese (D-Spartanburg) on Thursday, February 2. Now the bill and its companion, H.3079, by Representatives Dwight Loftis (R-Greenville) James Smith (D-Richland) and Laurie Slade Funderburk (D-Kershaw) are awaiting action by the House Ways and Means Committee.
This week the House will focus on debate and passage of the State budget. The Renewable Energy Jobs and Economic Development Act can be considered as early as the week of March 20. We are working to encourage scheduling a House subcommittee meeting now.
S.44 and H.3079 aim to clarify property tax treatment for Distributed Energy Resource (DER) and renewable energy resource property in South Carolina. SCCEBA supports 80% property tax abatement for DER property and commercial-owned renewable energy resource property.
March 10 – The Conservation Bank reauthorization effort needs you! This incredible tool for land protection must be reauthorized this year. The Palmetto Land and Water Legacy Alliance has created a page to help you reach out to the Legislature. Click here.
We are thrilled that the Anti-Home Rule Bill was defeated this week, but Automatic Stay suffered a blow. See Sammy Fretwell’s coverage in The State here.
Rebecca Haynes, Government Relations Director at Conservation Voters of SC, has shared an excellent summary of the week ahead (March 6-10):
We’re continuing to track a wide range of bills at the state house – from good bills like the Solar Property Tax, Conservation Bank Reauthorization, and Dam Safety Reform legislation to a suite of bills that attack your right to a clean and healthy environment (Automatic Stay, Anti-Home Rule, and Nuisance Immunity).
Unfortunately, many of the good bills are stalled in advance of budget deliberations. As we work to break the log jam on these bills and position us for debate after the budget, we will keep you posted.
We are also continuing to fight back the attacks on citizens rights. There’s now a new bill on the calendar this week – the Immunity for Industry bill or H.3653. This bill removes the rights of neighboring landowners to take action to ensure the safe and healthy enjoyment of their property. Essentially the bill provides industry a blanket immunity from noise and odor impacts to nearby properties (these, among others, are called nuisance complaints). If this bill passes, citizens will not be able to take action to protect their property from nuisance issues.
As we get close to a floor debate over the bills we are tracking (and a likely vote), we will send timely calls to action. Please continue to visit our Action Center to contact your legislators. For more information on bills we are tracking this week, please check out my weekly hotlist.