Conservation Bank – Without re-authorization, the SC Conservation Bank is due to sunset on June 30, 2018. Senator Campsen has introduced S.7 which would re-authorize the Bank for another 10 years through 2028. ASC and SCWF have joined with other conservation organizations and alliances to support re-authorization and will push for passage of Senator Campsen’s bill and a companion bill that will be introduced by Rep. Bruce Bannister and others in the House when the Legislature convenes on January 10. The Palmetto Water and Land Alliance, an organization which was formed this past summer to promote the re-authorization of the Conservation Bank, held a press conference on January 11 at the State House to drum up support for Senator Campsen’s bill and promote the benefits of the Conservation Bank. SCWF supports full funding at BEA the recommended level for the Conservation Bank in FY 2017-18. The 2016-2017 authorization was roughly $15M which was short of the BEA recommendation.
Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge – Expansion of the existing wildlife refuge is being sought. SCWF supports this expansion and will work with state and local officials to seek approval of the expansion from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Petroleum Pipeline Study Committee – The Study Committee, created by S.1065 in the 2016 session and charged with the responsibility of studying the presence of petroleum pipelines in the state and making regulatory recommendations to the General Assembly, met on September 28 to organize and again on November 30 to take public comments. Sharon Richardson testified at the latter meeting on behalf of Audubon SC and in opposition to the use of the state’s eminent domain laws by private, for-profit, non-regulated petroleum pipeline companies. The Committee will continue to study petroleum pipelined related issues and must report its findings to the General Assembly by December 31, 2017. S.868, also passed in the 2016 session, put in place a three year moratorium on the use of eminent domain by such pipeline companies. It is hopeful the Committee’s report will recommend a permanent moratorium, and we will continue to monitor the Committee’s activities and encourage such a permanent ban.
Crab Bank Island – Crab Bank Island in Charleston Harbor has been approved for renourishment by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The cost will amount to roughly $3M of which the Corps will require a $1M match. SCWF will support efforts to raise the match and will work with other organizations to seek state funding of the $1M from legislative appropriators if it is deemed feasible.
Coastal Zone Management Act Revisions – SCWF will actively work to defeat legislation proposed by Senator Bennett and Rep. Murphy that would remove Dorchester County or a portion thereof from being withdrawn from South Carolina’s legally-designated Coastal Zone Boundary.
Automatic Stay – Along with other Conservation Coalition members, ASC and SCWF will fight any attempt to weaken the automatic stay provision of the 1976 Code, relating to hearings and proceedings in contested permit cases in the Administrative Law Court
Citizens’ Rights to Clean Air and Water – SCWF will support and push for passage of several bills that have been introduced which will define and codify South Carolinian’s rights to clean air and water. Included in these bills is an Environmental Bills of Rights that, if passed, would be included in a statewide referendum and, if approved by the voters, added to the state’s constitution.
Native Plant Resolution – A joint resolution extolling the virtues of South Carolina’s native plants and encouraging the cultivating of them has been drafted and will be introduced by Rep. James Smith and others in the 2017 session. The resolution also calls on the General Assembly to designate a week in the year as South Carolina Native Plant week. The bill is championed by SCWF and Audubon SC (ASC) and supported by the SC Conservation Coalition (SCCC), SC Native Plant Society, The Nature Conservancy, The Garden Clubs of South Carolina, the SC Plant Council and other organizations.
Solar Sanctuary Legislation – SCWF will push for legislation that would impose state-sanctioned voluntary siting guidelines for commercial solar farms and other solar panel arrays. These guidelines, fashioned after Audubon’s successful effort in Minnesota, would call for the use of native plants in and around solar structures making them more bird and pollinator friendly among other things. ASC and SCWF will be working with other organizations and business concerns to enact a solar sanctuaries bill.
Additionally – Generally, SCWF will support the 2017 Priorities and Vision of the SC Conservation Coalition when it comes to other matters not included above but endorsed by the SCCC such as increased funding for transportation, particularly transit funding, dam safety reform, and a push for legislation that encourages solar energy expansion, both residential and commercial, consistent with Act 236 passed in 2014 which requires 2% of South Carolina’s energy to be generated from renewable clean energy sources.
South Carolina Wildlife Federation