Sunday, Nov. 11, 2007
movement getting new head of steam
NOV. 11, 2007 - - South Carolina's environmental movement
has picked up an unexpected ally: Santee Cooper, the very
public utility it is battling with over a proposed coal-burning
The utility's aggressive push to build the billion-dollar
plant in the Kingsburg area of Florence County has galvanized
fishermen, rural residents, conservationists and long-time
liberal environmentalists into a coalition with, ahem, new
Florence resident Peggy Brown, natural resources director
for the state League of Women Voters, said the planned power
plant has brought together different groups and people.
"It has united them to make them stronger," she
Dana Beach, head of the SC Coastal Conservation League, said
the unity is driven by the plant and has allowed conservation
organizations to broaden their reach.
"It has been the crucible for education and activism
that we've needed around the state," he said. After listing
several groups opposing the plant, he added, "We're all
working very closely together to not only oppose the plant,
but to develop an agenda to solve the problem.
"The coal plant has become a focal point for environmental
enthusiasm because it is very difficult to conceptualize some
of the more complex policies we need to be doing."
The movement got its first shot in the arm earlier this year
after industry forces lobbied to get state legislators to
abandon a long commitment to close a low-level nuclear waste
dump in Barnwell County by next year to all but three states.
Environmentalists squawked. When lawmakers visited the facility
and looked more into the situation, they shelved a proposal
to extend the facility's use. After a summer scare about possible
radioactivity in water around the dump, the facility's owner
backed down for good on trying to keep it open.
being dumped into a pile at a power plant.
Success from the Barnwell fight emboldened conservationists
to work more closely together on the proposed Kingsburg plant,
which Santee Cooper claims is needed to keep up with modern
Opponents counter the plant's emissions will hurt health
in the area. They also say use of other power sources and
efforts to improve energy efficiencies will offset the need
for an expensive new plant. (Interestingly in a move to highlight
its greenness - and perhaps quell the outcry from environmentalists
-- Santee Cooper recently adopted a long-term goal of having
40 percent of its energy come from sources that don't emit
greenhouse gases. Click
here to go to Santee Cooper's "Green
Power" Web site.)
Now both sides are completely engaged. Coal advocates have
been running statewide ads on so-called clean coal. Conservationists
have had press conferences and coordinated efforts to get
opponents to attend public permit hearings.
"When we win -- and we will win -- it will give a higher
degree of credibility to what we do," Beach said.
In the near future, the green movement in the state is expected
to use its new muscle to focus on several issues:
Energy efficiency. A move likely will take shape
to develop a more comprehensive state energy policy that
pushes large-scale efficiency measures, such as appliance
standards (allowing stores to sell only energy-efficient
appliances), more energy tax credits, and research and development.
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- Climate change. Environmentalists will push for
the state to adopt various strategies to lower impacts on
the environment. An example is a bill that passed earlier
this year that requires new multi-million-dollar state buildings
to meet green building standards.
- Mercury. In light of recent news reports on the
harmful effects of mercury in state waters, particularly
in rivers in the Pee Dee, lawmakers are sure to hear renewed
calls for measures on everything from mercury thermometer
bans to reduced emissions of mercury from industrial plants.
- DHEC restructuring. Environmentalists are gathering
steam for an effort to split the state Department of Health
and Environmental Control because they say the agency isn't
proactive enough to be effective on protecting people's
health and their communities.
The battle over the Kingsburg power plant likely will be
bitter and long. The longer it is, the better chance more
South Carolinians will wonder whether there are better and
cleaner ways of powering our economy than a new plant that
adds pollution to the air and water.
Andy Brack, publisher of Statehouse Report,
can be reached at: email@example.com.
Turn of century
expo garners attention for SC
beautiful Exposition building built on what is now
Hampton Park in Charleston is no longer standing.
Held in Charleston from December 1, 1901 to June 20,
1902, the South Carolina Inter-State and West Indian Exposition
followed worlds fairs in other Southern cities such
as Atlanta (1881, 1895), New Orleans (1884-1886), and
Nashville (1897). While many of the citys traditional
merchants and bankers were uninterested, the idea gained
support from the citys progressive young businessmen.
Under the leadership of Frederick C. Wagener, Charlestons
Exposition Company raised money through private and corporate
subscriptions to stock, a municipal bond issue, state
government, and donations of convict labor. The company
acquired the lands of the old Washington Race Course and
the adjacent Lowndes farm, lying north of the city along
the Ashley River. The company hired Bradford Lee Gilbert,
a New York-based architect and the supervising architect
of Atlantas Cotton States Exposition (1895), to
oversee the design and construction of the landscape and
Statehouse Report has partnered with USC
Press to provide readers with an interesting
weekly historical excerpt about the state. Each
excerpt, which is used with permission and not for
republication, is taken from The
South Carolina Encyclopedia, a 1,077-page
book published in 2006 with entries by almost 600
contributors and edited by noted historian Walter
Edgar. We hope you enjoy this new feature.
The goal of the Exposition was to stimulate trade through
the citys harbor, where traffic had steadily decreased
since the Civil War. In the wake of the Spanish-American
War, the Expositions proponents sought to position
Charleston as the principal port of exchange between the
United States and the Caribbean and Latin America. However,
the federal government did not give the Exposition its
formal approval until just before the start, and no foreign
governments sent official exhibits. Poor weather, a late
installation of many exhibits, and a chronic shortage
of funds, all contributed to the poor financial results
of the Exposition.
After the end of the Exposition, the city of Charleston
acquired the eastern portion of the grounds containing
the formal court and main buildings for use as Hampton
Park. In the 1910s, the state acquired the western portion
of the grounds along the Ashley River for the new campus
of the Citadel.
Another great cartoon from Bill McLemore:
11/4: Property tax relief law was overkill for rich
To Statehouse Report:
report. One reason SC ranks near the bottom in all economic
factors -and not on your list is our new property tax relief-overkill
law (Act 388). This law shifts a $954 million tax burden (23
percent of the state's entire property tax burden) -- the
largest in SC history -- from those most able to pay their
own taxes to those most in need of tax relief.
$582 million of which will be paid for by a regressive 20
percent increase in sales tax. The balance $372 million will
be paid for by all poor property owners, thanks to most of
the 700,000 duped into voted yes to amendment #4. We now have
a property tax system that is a "cash cow" for wealthy
property owners and a constitution that allows it to be so,
regardless of the fact that it denies "equal treatment"
to 70 percent of all taxpayers.
The 15 percent value Cap generates over the next five year
reassessment cycle a $372 million tax break for the wealthiest
property owners in the state. This will be paid for by less
affluent home owners, personal property owners, and owners
of small businesses.They will subsidize owners of the most
valuable properties, including their mansions, beach and waterfront
properties, mountain view homes, their second homes, rentals
and all other commercial properties. Small wonder SC ranks
49th in per capita income and the highest in crime. Such laws
guarantee it will remain unchanged.
-- Bob Henderson, North Charleston, SC
makes scary assumptions, Michael Greer, Summerville,
removed on all grocery taxes, Bob Henderson,
North Charleston, SC
money won't help schools, David Whetsell,
program will have positive impact, Chad Walldorf,
Mount Pleasant, SC
needed to strengthen state, Roxanne Walker, Greenville,
power makes sense, Barbara Measter, Seabrook Island,
for tax breaks, Bob Logan, Little River, SC
needs affordable medical help, birth control, Roxanne
Walker, Greenville, SC
good points in sex Ed column, Anne Badgley, Charleston,
insurance companies want to cancel policies, Dan
Norfleet, Summerville, SC
is tip of iceberg, John P. Ford, Sumter, SC
have grown apathetic, David Whetsell, Lexington,
best way to get South Carolina news is to augment your morning
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