1. Pipelines Updates: Pollution, Public Hearing, and Eminent Domain
Pipelines old and new continue to make news. The old pipeline – Kinder Morgan’s Plantation Pipeline – ruptured near Belton in Anderson County in late 2014. The pipeline failure was noticed by passers-by in December of that year and was later estimated by Kinder Morgan to total 370,000 gallons, all of which seeped into the ground, impacting the water table and quickly reaching a tributary of Brown’s Creek, a thousand feet away. Due to the company’s failure to clean up the pollution, in December, the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) filed suit on behalf of Upstate Forever and Savannah Riverkeeper under the Clean Water Act. More background information is available here.
Since our last update, SELC released an independent assessment of the reported data on the spill on January 30. Its consultants concluded that the spill was much larger than reported. The following day, DHEC hosted a public meeting requested by Anderson County Council; over 100 citizens attended (see photo), but Kinder Morgan did not. In that meeting, DHEC listened to the concerns that were expressed and agreed to convene with the community on a regular basis and to expand testing to Broadway Lake. Finally, we are pleased that this week DHEC initiated split-sampling testing at the site, which means that DHEC and Kinder Morgan will conduct joint sampling and independent lab testing going forward.
The new pipeline is a proposed 55-mile natural gas pipeline, called the Dominion Transco to Charleston Project, which connects compressor stations in Spartanburg County and Greenwood County via Laurens and Newberry Counties. Another pipeline connecting these two points already exists. The proposed route would disrupt 181 residential sites as well as numerous timber, forest and agricultural lands with a permanent 50-foot right of way and would cross 73 water bodies. Upstate Forever believes that this new capacity through undeveloped land is not needed, does not warrant eminent domain, and causes unnecessary harm with no corresponding benefit. For details, click here.
The most recent news on this project is a January 24 resolution issued by Laurens County Council opposing the use of eminent domain for construction of the pipeline in Laurens County. On February 2, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued Dominion a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity, authorizing the company to utilize eminent domain to acquire pipeline right-of-way. This certificate was issued the day before FERC lost a quorum of commissioners and without the necessary DHEC Section 401 water quality certification. Upstate Forever will continue to scrutinize this project as it proceeds through the 401 certification process, and we will appeal the FERC Certificate.
2. Newly Protected Property Provides Critical Connections for 7,500 Acres
A 302-acre former tree farm in Spartanburg County is now permanently protected through a partnership between Upstate Forever and a conservation-minded landowner. Located just outside of the historic Glenn Springs area in Pauline, the Keithfield property provides a critical connection linking Croft State Park to another large property protected by Upstate Forever. These properties altogether make up an area of more than 7,500 acres of protected resources.
Keithfield is mostly forested, with about 60 acres of farmland. A historic family cemetery sits adjacent to the property, with grave markers dating back to the early 19th century. Landowner Dr. John Keith, Jr. put it this way, “Establishing a conservation easement on Keithfield helps preserve a unique, yet vanishing quality of life seen in rural South Carolina.”
With the protection of Keithfield, Upstate Forever and Dr. Keith are supporting a larger effort to improve water quality in the Tyger River Basin, which is designated by the State of South Carolina as “impaired.” The property includes significant creek frontage: 4,000 feet on Pauline Creek, 1,300 feet on Lancaster Branch, and 1,000 feet on Dugan Creek. Additionally, Keithfield contains 17 acres of ponds and wetlands, essential to protecting water quality and providing habitat for a diverse array of wildlife.
Limited public access will continue, with the property enjoyed by scouting and church groups.
Upstate Forever now protects 20,918 acres on 112 properties across the region. For more information, visit www.upstateforever.org/land-trust.
3. Building a Healthy Boiling Springs
A diverse, cross-sector group of 10-12 individuals, each with a vested interest in the unincorporated Boiling Springs community in Spartanburg County, is in training to better understand the connection between the built environment—the buildings, transportation corridors, and physical networks that shape a community—and public health. Inspired by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Culture of Health Change Leaders program, Upstate Forever and the Upstate Family Resource Center partnered to convene this “Building a Healthy Boiling Springs” Cohort.
By summer, the group will explore how they can help encourage a policy or project in Boiling Springs to support community health and long term prosperity. By fall, cohort members will identify, plan and begin to implement their own initiative to move Boiling Springs toward a built environment that supports active living in everyday life routines. Such an initiative has the potential to be a first step to a bolder, healthier future for Boiling Springs; a future that —wisely and proactively—embraces growth, and simultaneously improves quality of life.
The cohort’s initiative will strive to address how Boiling Springs might grow, and in the process of development and redevelopment, create better access to healthier lifestyles. This small group of enthusiastic citizen-leaders is committed to making a difference by leading a change to begin transforming Boiling Springs into an even more healthy and prosperous suburban community.
The cohort program was made possible by a grant from the Mary Black Foundation. For more information, contact Sherry Barrett at email@example.com.
4. Don’t Miss the ForeverGreen Annual Awards Luncheon!
Upstate Forever’s ForeverGreen Annual Awards Luncheon is going to be extra-special this year. In addition to honoring six amazing conservation champions, the event will feature lunch prepared by award-winning chef Alan Scott. WYFF’s Myra Ruiz will emcee the event, which will culminate in a keynote speech by Josh Dorfman, “The Lazy Environmentalist”!
So make plans to join us on Tuesday, February 21 at 11:30 a.m. at the Embassy Suites Greenville. Individual tickets are $50 each and can be purchased here.
Our honorees are:
Sustainable Communities Champion: Homes Of Hope
Clean Water Champion: ReWa (for Project Rx)
Clear Skies Champion: Trees Greenville
Three Rs Champion: Gina McLellan and the Pickens County “Traveling Trash Bash”
Public Servant Of The Year: Senator Larry Martin
Volunteer Of The Year: Neil Batavia
Tuesday, February 21, 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
ForeverGreen Annual Awards Luncheon
Embassy Suites Greenville, 670 Verdae Boulevard, Greenville
Cost: $50 per person, sponsorships available
Upstate Forever’s ForeverGreen Annual Awards Luncheon celebrates individuals and organizations for significant contributions in the fields of land conservation, water quality, sustainable development, air quality, public service and volunteer work. Our Keynote Speaker is Josh Dorfman, best known as “The Lazy Environmentalist.” He launched his media venture in 2005 to help consumers discover clever, stylish and convenient ways to green their lifestyles. Buy Tickets Here!
Tuesday, February 28, 4:30 – 5:30 p.m.
Campobello Property Protection Celebration
Smith Chapel Baptist Church, 750 Smith Chapel Road, Campobello
Please join us to celebrate the permanent protection of nearly 200 scenic acres in Campobello. In late 2015, this property was slated to be the site of an electrical substation. After an outpouring of community opposition, the plans for the substation and associated transmission line over the Blue Ridge Mountains were scrapped. Now, through a partnership of Upstate Forever, Duke Energy, and The Nature Conservancy, this beautiful property will remain rural forever. By permanently protecting this property, we preserve the scenic views from Highway 11, I-26, and Smith Chapel Baptist Church; protect water quality; and maintain the traditional agricultural and equestrian uses of the land. This is truly exciting news for the whole community. RSVP to Ginger Goldsmith at firstname.lastname@example.org or 864.850.0500 ext. 20.
Tuesday, March 7, 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Greenville Take Action Event
Swamp Rabbit Cafe and Grocery, 205 Cedar Lane Road, Greenville
Come grab a drink, enjoy some appetizers on us, and learn about state and national conservation issues and how you can take action to protect the air, land, and water you love! Hosted by Conservation Voters of South Carolina, in partnership with Upstate Forever. RSVP at http://p2a.co/QhGqFbu.
Tuesday, March 21, 10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Conservation Lobby Day and Oyster Roast
Join conservationists from across the state as we meet with our legislators and celebrate our accomplishments. The fun and educational day will include a briefing, guided lobbying at the State House, speakers on current legislative topics, visits with some of our Upstate legislators in their offices, and cap off with a reception and Oyster Roast. There is no cost to participate; business attire requested. Rides will be available from the Upstate Forever offices, and an early return option will be offered. Contact Shelley Robbins at email@example.com to RSVP or for more details.
Tuesday, March 28, 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Spartanburg Take Action Event
Hub City Tap House, 19 East Saint John Street, Spartanburg
Come grab a drink, enjoy some appetizers on us, and learn about state and national conservation issues and how you can take action to protect the air, land, and water you love! Hosted by Conservation Voters of South Carolina, in partnership with Upstate Forever. RSVP at http://p2a.co/lHtEiJW.
Lots o’ Links
2015 National Land Trust Census. Over five years, Southeastern land trusts permanently protected an additional 1.26 million acres across the region!
This Bumblebee Was Everywhere. Now It’s On The Endangered Species List. For the first time in American history, a bumblebee species has been placed on the endangered species list. It probably won’t be the last.
Bumblebee Update. The Trump administration has delayed putting the rusty patched bumblebee on the endangered list.
Solar Success Story. The cost of utility-scale solar power has plunged to the Obama administration’s $1 per watt goal — and three years early at that.
Last in Transit Funding. Public funding for Greenlink is the lowest among 10 mid-sized Southern metros.
Quote of the Month
“We’ll never know exactly how much fuel leaked. The ground is like a big sponge, and we haven’t even tried to calculate the spill size ourselves because there are so many uncertainties.”
— Don Siron, SC Department of Health and Environmental Control, speaking in Anderson County at the January 31 public hearing regarding the cleanup of the Kinder Morgan Belton pipeline spill, quoted in the Anderson Independent Mail, 2/1/17