Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A bill that would undermine federal energy efficiency standards

We encourage Senators to support Conservation Bank and natural resource agency funding in their budget debate this week. Forestry, agriculture, outdoor recreation and tourism account for $54 billion, or about one-third, of our state’s economy. That’s over 450,000 jobs, or approximately 25% of all jobs in South Carolina. However, the combined budgets of the South Carolina Agriculture Department, Forestry Commission, Department of Natural Resources and Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism account for less than one percent of the state budget.

As the “Crossover Date” quickly approaches, two bills important to the Common Agenda have landed on the House contested calendar: the Conservation Bank Sunset Clause Extension Bill (H.3083) and the Solar Jobs Bill (H.3346). These bills must be passed out of the House by April 28th in order to be considered by the Senate this year. Also, two major water priority bills: the Phosphorus Bill (H.3470) and the Chronic Sewage Polluter Bill (Three Strikes- H.3617), both introduced by Rep. Mike Pitts, are on the House uncontested calendar with a good chance of passing to the Senate. Thousands of South Carolina jobs are tied to fishing, boating, outdoor manufacturing and recreation. If we do not invest in land stewardship and keep our water clean, thes! e jobs are at risk. We look to House members to support these bills on the floor this week, and help bolster the economy for new, green jobs in South Carolina.


In the Senate

Alcoholic Beverage Container (ABC) Recycling (S.461, Sen. Ray Cleary) PRIORITY

S.461 calls for establishments that have a permit for on-site consumption of alcohol to implement a recycling program in the next two years for plastic, corrugated cardboard, aluminum and glass. (The bill provides establishments without access to glass recyclers, 3 years to implement glass recycling.) S.461 also calls for these establishments to develop recycling plans guided by DHEC. Minimal funding will come from the Governor’s Task Force on Litter with money going equally to DHEC and the Department of Revenue for implementation and enforcement. Permit applications or renewals are given a 10% discount for 8 years if there is a recycling plan that does not include glass, and a 25% discount for applications and renewals that have a recycling plan with glass. S.461 remains on the contested calendar.  Email your Senator to ask him to support this priority bill that creates South Carolina jobs.


Natural Resource Agency Funding- PRIORITY

The Conservation Bank received $750,000 in the House version of the Fiscal Year 2011-2012 Budget. This funding would ensure that the Bank has the operational funding necessary for the upcoming year, as well as cover a portion of the $3 million in outstanding grants. We encourage Senators to invest in our state’s outdoor economy this week as the full Senate debates the budget this week. Email your Senator to ask him to support Conservation Bank funding.


Prescribed Fire (H.3631, Rep. Jim Harrison/S.501, Sen. Ronnie Cromer) SUPPORT

Prescribed burns are the most efficient and cost effective tools for managing healthy forests. These bills provide greater protection for landowners who choose to burn responsibly on their property. Last week, the full Senate Fish, Game and Forestry Committee (Sen. Ronnie Cromer- Chair, John Land, Yancey McGill, Dick Elliott, Brad Hutto, Chip Campsen, Jake Knotts, Mike Fair, Kent Williams, Paul Campbell, Larry Grooms, Danny Verdin, Vincent Sheheen, Creighton Coleman, Shane Martin, Mike Rose and Phillip Shoopman) gave H.3631 a favorable report, and sent it to the full Senate for its consideration.


Incandescent Light Bulb Freedom Act (H. 3735 by Rep. Dwight Loftis) OPPOSE

The first week of April the House passed H.3735 in a 76-20 vote.  This bill would undermine federal energy efficiency standards that will save every American household 100 to 200 dollars or more per year once fully enacted. H. 3735 would eliminate these savings in South Carolina along with the environmental benefits of using less energy. The federal standards, passed with bipartisan support in 2007, require 25-30% energy efficiency gains by 2014 and three-times more efficient light bulbs by 2020. Proponents of the bill are calling the technology-neutral federal standard a “ban” on traditional light bulbs and attempting to draw a line around the state to protect older, inefficient technology. The bill has been referred to the Senate LCI Committee (Sen. Greg Ryber! g- Chair, Nikki Setzler, Phil Leventis, Glenn McConnell,  Billy O’Dell, Glenn Reese, Robert Ford, Thomas Alexander, Hugh Leatherman, Kevin Bryant, Ray Cleary, Joel Lourie, Kent Williams, Shane Massey, Lee Bright, Floyd Nicholson and Mike Rose), and if recalled from Committee, could be considered by the Senate this week.



In the House

Phosphorus Bill (H.3470, Rep. Mike Pitts) PRIORITY

H.3470 would prohibit the use, sell or manufacture of dishwashing detergents containing phosphates, a harmful chemical found in our lakes and rivers. Phosphorus is already banned in 15 states because it kills fish and lowers recreational revenues and home values. This bill will be considered by the full House this week.


Chronic Sewage Polluter Bill (H.3617, Rep. Mike Pitts) PRIORITY

H.3617 would require any wastewater utility with two spills over 5,000 gallons each in a 12-month period (per every 100 miles of pipe) to undergo a comprehensive audit of what caused the spill and fix the problems identified. This compromise language is supported by the conservation community and the 30 largest South Carolina wastewater utilities as a means of bringing the most chronic violators into compliance. This bill will be considered by the full House this week.


Conservation Bank Sunset Clause (H.3083, Rep. Mike Pitts/S.138, Sen .Chip Campsen) PRIORITY

H.3083 extends the Sunset Clause to 2023. The House adjourned debate on this bill two weeks ago, and placed H.3083 on the contested calendar to allow time for further debate. The House will debate this bill again this week.  Email House members today to ask them to support H.3083.


Solar Tax Credits (H.3346, Rep. Dwight Loftis/S.474, Sen. Glenn Reese) PRIORITY

H.3346 establishes a 35 percent state tax credit for the installation of solar energy equipment for both residential and commercial purposes placed in service in taxable years after 2010. This legislation not only promotes renewable energy; it encourages solar installations and creates new jobs. The House adjourned debate on this bill two weeks ago, and placed it on the contested calendar to allow time for further debate this week. Email House members today to ask them to support this important bill.


Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles (H.3059, Rep. Jim Merrill) SUPPORT

H.3059 extends an existing, state income tax credit of $2,000 for highway-speed, plug-in vehicles. The tax credit has an annual impact cap of $500,000 and is provided on a first-come, first-serve, basis. Within three years, over a dozen hybrid models are expected to be available, providing economic, national security, and environmental benefits. Two weeks ago, the House rejected this bill in a 24-67 vote. Rep. Merrill moved to reconsider the bill, and it is now on the contested calendar, and will be debated again this week.


1 comment:

  1. The Senate could still take up these bills after the "crossover" deadline. It would just require a 2/3rds majority.