S.C. Statehouse Report
June 13, 2004
VIEW: http://www.statehousereport.com/columns/04.0613.coast.htm

EDITOR'S NOTE: Our weekly commentary now will be published periodically in the Columbia Free Times. Look for it at your newsstand or racks every Wednesday in Columbia.

Lawmakers need to take coastal futures report seriously
By Andy Brack
SC Statehouse Report

JUNE 13, 2004 - - State lawmakers need to act on a comprehensive report on managing the future of South Carolina's economically-important coast.

The Council on Coastal Futures, a diverse mix of developers, businessmen and environmentalists empanelled by the state, submitted the fruits of its 18 months of work Thursday to the state Department of Health and Environmental Control board.

The recommendations in the report, endorsed Thursday by the DHEC board, provide pragmatic guidance and realistic advice on how to ensure the economic and environmental sustainability of the coast as it continues to grow by leaps and bounds.

"The most important part of the whole document is the planning for sustainable economic growth," said Chris Brooks, deputy commissioner of DHEC's Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management, which helped to start the Coastal Futures panel.

In short, the report says if state regulators and lawmakers don't take more proactive steps in managing the growth, the economic vitality provided by the coastal area of the state may degrade. And that could be bad because it currently pumps in more than $40 billion annually to the state and provides a third of all new private-sector jobs..

Why bad? Because if growth isn't managed as more people move in to attain South Carolina's great quality of life, then the state could suffer the consequences of unplanned growth - - sprawl, congestion, less eventual economic growth and an erosion of the very qualities that brought people here.

"The environment is good for business," Brooks said. "That was a strong chord throughout the process. Businesses won't locate in a degrading environmental area."


McLEMORE'S WORLD: One way to get rid of California

SCORECARD: Winners and losers of the past week



We encourage your feedback. If you'd like to respond to something in SC Statehouse Report, please send us an e-mail. We reserve the right to edit for length and clarity. One submission allowed per month. Please keep your comment to 250 words or less:


Recent feedback

For Wes Jones, the Bluffton lawyer who chaired the Coastal Futures panel, finding a balanced way to deal with the sometimes competing natures of development and environmental management was key to the process.

"People are drawn to South Carolina," he said. "There is a balance that has to be reached between the economic development side of it, the private property side of it and the environmental resource that brings us here in the first place."

It's important to note that for those who issued the report and studied how to make the coast sustainable, "managed" growth doesn't mean overriding governmental impediments and control. Management means using the planning tools that are available to ensure economic growth is happening in ways that don't savage the environment.

A look at the recommendations in the Coastal Futures report highlights just that. Several of the recommendations, particularly those on permits for developers, call for improved flexibility and decision-making based on best practices. Many can be implemented administratively by DHEC. On Thursday, the board asked staff to provide a plan and budget ideas on how to implement recommendations in the report.

And that's where state lawmakers come in. While the report encourages some specific legislation, such as adoption of measures to protect freshwater wetlands, it suggests the biggest way legislators can help in the future is to provide funding to do the things that are needed to promote economic and environmental sustainability.

In other words, once DHEC figures out how much it will cost to implement recommendations from the report, state lawmakers need to figure out how to pay for them. If they don't, growth will continue to happen and it might get so out of control that it starts declining.

Managing economic growth is an investment in continuing South Carolina's quality of life. To fail to fund management is to slowly kill the goose that lays one of the state's golden eggs.

Charleston Realtor John Settle III, who served on the panel, says he believes the Coastal Futures report will provide helpful guidance to lead lawmakers toward better management of the coast. Unlike many government reports that end up sitting on shelves, this one won't, he says.

Let's hope he's right.

NOTE: The report isn't yet online, but you can learn more about the Council on Coastal Futures by going online to: http://www.scdhec.net/ocrm/html/ccf.html

6/13: One way to get rid of California

This week's cartoon by our Bill McLemore:


The best way to get South Carolina news is to augment your morning paper and TV show with SC Clips, a daily executive news summary compiled from more than 30 state newspaper and TV sources. It's delivered every business day and is packed with news of statewide impact, politics, business and more. Subscriptions are affordable at $30 per month -- and less for business subscribers. More: SC Clips.


Here's a "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" related to various political events from the past week:

Thumbs up

Columbia College. Hats off to the private college for saving the state Commission on Women, which was gutted last year by Gov. Mark Sanford. More.

Ballantine. Mortgage banker Nathan Ballantine scored a huge upset by knocking off House Majority Leader Rick Quinn in a GOP primary in Columbia. Part of the credit may go to conservation and education groups that campaigned against Quinn's record.

Doug Smith. One of the more interesting election stories of the week was a speculation by the Spartanburg Herald Journal that House Speaker Pro Tem Doug Smith would become speaker if President Bush won reelection and current speaker David Wilkins was named an ambassador.

Thumbs down

Turnout. Despite some interestering Democratic primaries in parts of the state as well as a vigorous GOP U.S. Senate primary, voter turnout was still low.

Drought. All evidence points to the return of a drought to the state, which gives new impetus for a multi-state water compact.

How you can subscribe to the full edition of the report

The above version of S.C. Statehouse Report is the free edition. Our paid version, which costs about $100 per month, offer a weekly legislative forecast packed with information that can keep you and your business on the cutting edge.

Notes veteran lawmaker Sen. Glenn McConnell: "Statehouse Report gives an inside practical report of weekly problems with and progress of legislation. It reviews the whole landscape."

In each issue of Statehouse Report, you'll get::

Hot issue -- an early peek at weekly commentary on something really big. Last year, we continually beat other news organizations in finding major trends in issues, from teacher and budget cuts to wetlands proposals.

Agenda -- a weekly forecast of the coming week's floor agenda

Radar Screen -- a behind-the-scenes look at what's really going on in the General Assembly

McLemore's World -- an early view of our respected cartoonist Bill McLemore.

Tally Sheet -- a weekly review of all of the new bills introduced in the legislature in everyday language

Scorecard -- A Thumbs Up and Thumbs Down of major political/policy events for the week.

Calendar -- a weekly list of major meetings for the House, Senate and state agencies.

Megaphone -- a quote of the week that you'll find illuminating.

To learn more about subscriptions, contact Andy Brack at: brack@statehousereport.com


Learn more about Statehouse Report

  Copyright 2004, Statehouse Report LLC, which is affiliated with The Brack Group, Charleston, S.C.
Retransmission or reproduction of more than one copy is prohibited without express permission of the publisher. For additional information, including subscription prices, go to