Tuesday, February 8, 2011

"Three Strikes, You're Out"

In response to another sewage spill by Alpine Utilities, citizens and business leaders renewed their calls for state legislation that would reign in chronic polluters. Jan. 31 Alpine Utilities had two spills in Richland County totaling around 5,000 gallons of sewage. According to DHEC’s website, Alpine also discharged 65,000 gallons on July 7, 2010 and another 5,000 gallons on December 3, 2010.  These three separate spills totaling at least 75,000 gallons have impacted waterways in Richland and Lexington Counties. In July of 2008, Alpine was responsible for a massive spill that required DHEC to close five miles of the Saluda River for several days.

Rep. Mike Pitts (R/Pickens) has drafted "three strikes" legislation that would require any utility with three spills over 5,000 gallons each in one calendar year to undergo an audit to improve their operations. The bill should be introduced this week.

Most of South Carolina's water utilities have an excellent performance record; of the 531 municipal waste treatment systems in South Carolina, 334 operate successfully without any discharges of untreated sewage or chronic pollution. Of the remaining 200, however, there are 53 that have produced 5,216 discharges of almost 100 million gallons of either untreated or only partially treated sewage into public waterways over the last ten years. This record demonstrates that only a handful of chronic polluters are giving the utility sector a bad name.

These chronic polluters hurt South Carolina businesses and threaten public health. The General Assembly needs to act now to pass the "three strikes" bill.

Lobby Team Tuesday

Join us tomorrow, as SAGE (Students Allied for a Green Environment) comes to Columbia to tell legislators why clean land, air and water is important to them and their communities. Volunteers are not required to be experts on any issue. We will brief you beforehand and are available to answer questions the entire day. Weekly Lobby Teams meet each Tuesday at the Nickelodeon Theatre at 11:00 a.m., prior to convening in the House and Senate lobby, and typically last until about 3:00 pm.

The Nickelodeon Theatre is located at 937 Main Street, Columbia, on the corner of South Main and Pendleton streets behind the State House. Parking is available on the street at blue and green meters, or in the parking garage located at Lady and Assembly streets. Business attire required, please. If you’d like to participate in future Lobby Team Tuesdays, please contact Debbie Parker at debbie@conservationvotersofsc.org or (803) 799-0716.

In the Senate

Prescribed Fire (S.501, Sen. Ronnie Cromer) SUPPORT
S.501 provides greater protection for landowners who choose to conduct prescribed burns on their property, and promotes the most efficient and cost effective forest management tool within South Carolina. The Senate Fish, Game and Forestry Subcommittee (Sen. Yancey McGill- Chair, Paul Campbell, Chip Campsen, Creighton Coleman, Mike Fair and Kent Williams) will discuss this bill Wednesday, Feb. 9th at approximately 9:30 a.m. in Gressette Room 209.

In the House

Natural Resource Agency Funding- PRIORITY
Forestry, agriculture, outdoor recreation and tourism account for $54 billion, or about one-third, of our economy. That’s over 450,000 jobs, or 25% of all jobs in South Carolina. However, the combined budgets of South Carolina Agriculture Department, Forestry Commission, Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism account for less than one percent of the state budget. Last week, the Ways and Means Natural Resources Subcommittee (Rep. Tracy Edge- Chair, Jim Battle, Chip Huggins and Denny Neilson) heard budget requests from the Department of Agriculture and the House Ways and Means Tourism Subcommittee (Rep. Jim Merrill- Chair, Liston Barfield and Gilda Cobb-Hunter) heard budget requests from the Office of Parks, Recreation and Tourism. Both Subcommittees made positive comments in response to testimony. The aforementioned Ways and Means Natural Resources Subcommittee will meet Tuesday, Feb.! 8th one and a half hours after adjournment (approximately 2:30 p.m.) in Blatt Room 523 to discuss budget provisos.

Protecting Our Groundwater (H.3389, Rep. Robert Brown) SUPPORT
H.3389 would require any construction, demolition or installation of a landfill to adhere to proper guidelines.  Specifically, landfill liners would be used to prevent seepage into the groundwater lying underneath it.  This bill would help ensure that neither our communities nor our natural landscape would be adversely affected by contaminated groundwater from landfills. The House Agriculture and Environmental Affairs I Subcommittee (Rep. David Hiott-Chair, Bill Crosby, Chandra Dillard and Chris Murphy) adjourned debate on this bill last week, after Waste Management raised opposition citing the cost of its implementation.

Click here to view the 2011 Conservation Common Agenda Priorities brochure.

No comments:

Post a Comment