Sunday, Nov. 26, 2006
energy measures may come to forefront
SC Statehouse Report
26, 2006 - - With popular realization that $3 per gallon gas
and global warming aren't outside the realm of reality, state
lawmakers are poised to take a look at various environmental
and energy measures in the coming two-year legislative session.
Bubbling just below the surface is an energy conservation
and incentive package that Gov. Mark Sanford's office reportedly
is working to present to lawmakers in January.
The plan, which may be unveiled during the governor's State
of the State address, was apparently intentionally left out
of the recent gubernatorial race because the governor didn't
want to politicize state efforts to improve policy on how
South Carolina produces and consumes energy.
incentives for things like solar energy could help South
Carolina make energy progress.
The plan, which the conservation community is eager to see,
is thought to include a mixture of tax incentives to encourage
energy conservation and petroleum alternatives, money for
improved energy research, efforts to reduce the state's greenhouse
gas emissions and more state dollars to boost energy education
This new statewide energy plan also may include a recommendation
from the governor's office for a special commission to take
on energy challenges of the 21st century. With South Carolina's
natural advantages in hydrogen and fuel cell research - and
with the growing interest in biodiesel fuel - it's time for
the state to step up to the energy plate of the next generation.
Other environmental issues on the table in 2007:
Regulatory takings. Out-of-state funders are keen
to work to control regulatory takings, but conservationists
are developing a coalition to work to maintain the rights
of local governments and communities to decide how their areas
will develop through zoning and local ordinances.
Opponents to the current system include big developers who
say local zoning rules diminish the value of a person's property
because the rules are "regulatory takings" that
thwart the rights of property owners to do anything they want
to do with their land.
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On the surface, people might think it sounds good to get
rid of zoning. The average person might say, "I don't
want the government telling me what I can do to my property."
But if local governments aren't able to channel and steer
growth throughout a community, the value of a person's property
might actually end up being worth less than now. For example,
if your neighbor wanted to put up a 50-story high-rise or
an adult book store, he might just be able to do so if the
big developers and out-of-state, deep-pocketed interests get
Even considering the possibility of eliminating zoning calls
for selfish, individual interests to be placed ahead of the
community and the common good.
Water use. State lawmakers also may consider legislation
that would regulate how much surface water can be drawn from
lakes and rivers. If too much is siphoned off, there may not
be enough for wildlife, fisheries, sportsmen and future needs.
For a few years, the state has been working to develop a cooperative
agreement with neighboring states to deal with water usage
in a fair way.
Isolated wetlands. Word on the street is the environmental
community may hold off on insisting on new protection for
isolated wetlands, a key unresolved issue for the last few
years. Why the change? Because a recent U.S. Supreme Court
ruling confused the whole issue even more and state regulators
now think they might have enough authority to protect these
unique wetlands from development.
Conservation Bank. Over the last three years, the
$10 million of annual funding to the state Conservation Bank
has protected more than 74,000 acres of land statewide. But
because some lawmakers see it as a fund from which they can
steal for pet projects, conservation groups again will have
to fight to maintain the funding stream. A better way: Create
a mechanism to keep the money sacrosanct and off the table
from legislators with sticky fingers.
Send your comments to Andy Brack at email@example.com.
His book of commentary, Bugging
the Palmettos, is available for
here for more.
Another great cartoon from Bill McLemore:
11/19: Dems shouldn't
To the editor:
Enjoyed your column [Commentary,
11/19]. It contains the argument I've tried to make.
Yes, Democrats could win the presidency without Southern electoral
votes, but should they try. Isn't it in the interests of the
country, not to mention the Democratic Party, to aspire to
be a truly national party?
-- Ferrel Guillory, Chapel Hill, N.C.
issues of the ballot
To the editor:
Too many confusing issues on the ballot this time (7 in Horry)....
It was a scam and should be appealed. No explanation of the
negatives of a 15 percent property tax cap was provided with
the handouts. They distributed inside our precinct buildings
to voters. They were made available to pollworkers and not
kept at least 200 feet away as per the law.
-- Bob Logan, Little River, S.C.
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