SCWF works closely with the National Wildlife Federation to engage our supporters on issues of national significance. Executive Director, Ben Gregg, monitors these issues and partners with other state affiliates of the NWF to be sure our voices are heard.
Our national public lands are one of the defining features of America. They include our national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, monuments, wilderness areas and lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management. They’re America’s “big backyard,” where people of all social, economic, political, racial and ethnic backgrounds are welcome. The National Wildlife Federation and its 50 state and territorial affiliates support keeping public lands in public hands. NWF, its 50 state and territorial affiliates and 6 million supporters and members are a diverse group of hunters, anglers, hikers, wildlife watchers, paddlers and other outdoor enthusiasts united in our passion for protecting public lands. These lands provide amazing outdoor experiences and habitat for fish and wildlife populations and are sources of clean air and water.
SCWF works with legislators to protect precious wildlife habitat and ensure that sound scientific data is used to make decisions which affect wildlife. Our Government Relations Manager, Trip King, represents the SCWF, as well as our conservation partner, Audubon South Carolina (ASC) at the State House. Below is a summary of issues we are currently watching at the State House:
conservation Bank RE-AUTHORIZATION
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.
We ask you to show your support by clicking on the above link to sign up for updates to keep informed about the latest developments on the re-authorization effort. That way, you can share with your friends and become directly involved in urging your representatives in the General Assembly to vote in favor of re-authorization.
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.
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.
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.
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.
south carolina Conservation Coalition
The SC Conservation Coalition, of which SCWF is a member, has agreed to support and/or oppose the following legislative initiatives in the 2017 legislative session: (1) support re-authorization of the Conservation Bank; (2) support Dam Safety Reform; (3) support the Native Plant Resolution; (4) oppose legislative action that would prohibit local governments from banning single use plastic bags and containers; (5) support Solar Energy Market Growth; (6) support a suite of Environmental Bill of Rights initiatives; and (7) oppose attempts to roll back regulations in the Pollution Control Act, oppose any weakening of the ability to bring Nuisance Suits, and to oppose any attempt to weaken the “automatic stay” provision in state permitting decisions.