Thursday, May 19, 2011

Conservation hotlist

S.461, the Alcoholic Beverage Container (ABC) Recycling bill by Sen. Ray Cleary would create thousands of new jobs in South Carolina. There are seven material recycling facilities and over 300 collectors, brokers, processors and manufacturers across this state. Today that is approximately 15,600 jobs. A Clemson University study projects recycling industry growth at 12% annually producing 37,000 direct and indirect jobs in five years.

The cost of recycling is comparable to the price of sending waste to a landfill. When businesses recycle, the expenses incurred paying haulers to take their waste to landfills decreases, offsetting any costs for recycling. Taxpayers benefit as well by not being saddled with the costs of building new landfills. You don’t have to take our word for it. Testimonials from business leaders speak for themselves:

“The positives I see in requiring restaurants to recycle are numerous, and not just the obvious benefit to the environment being just one. From my perspective as a restaurant manager, I think it will be safer for employees and sanitation workers if glass is kept in one place and removed safely. Glass is dangerous, especially if it is hidden in a garbage bag and someone doesn’t know it’s there. Imagine something as simple as restaurants & bars recycling glass could be used to make the USA more energy independent, grow green jobs and generate revenue. I urge you to vote yes to restaurant and bar recycling.” - Kaitlin Ohlinger, Manager, Cellar on the Green, Columbia

“In Myrtle Beach we currently have 6 restaurants that are participating in green recycling efforts. In just 8 months, our restaurants have recycled 53 tons of materials. Initially, we thought it would be a difficult transition to move the restaurants into a recycling mentality and a challenge to get our staff involved…We have realized how easy it is and how much our staff wants to be a part of these efforts. We recycle paper, glass, cans, plastic, oil and cardboard and have noticed a significant decrease in our dumpster pick-up. We are committed to helping make Myrtle Beach a more green-friendly destination and recycling is critical to this effort.” - Elise Angell, Myrtle Beach Public Relations, Centra Archy Restaurant Management Company 

The time for recycling in South Carolina is now. We encourage Senators to support a green economy and vote in favor of S.461.

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
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. 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. Two weeks ago, the Senate approved $2 million of likely surplus funds for the Conservation Bank in its budget in a 38-4 vote. The Senate will go into session earlier than usual Tuesday morning at 10:00 am to continue their debate on othe! r parts of the budget.

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 passed the House and was referred to the Senate Medical Affairs Committee, chaired by Sen. Harvey Peeler.

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. A Medical Affairs Subcommittee (Sen. Wes Hayes- Chair, Ray Cleary, Brad Hutto, Floyd Nicholson and Danny Verdin) will discuss this bill Wednesday, May 18 at 12:30 pm in Gressette Room 207. (If the Senate is still in session at that time, the Subcommittee will meet in the third floor conference room in the State House.) If H.3617 receives a favorable report, it will be discussed by the full Medical Affairs Committee, Thursday, May 19 at 9:30 am in Gressette Room 308.

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. H.3346 has passed the House and resides in the Senate Finance Committee.

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. This bill passed the House and resides in the Senate Finance Committee.

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 companion bills provide greater protection for landowners who choose to burn responsibly on their property. Both bills are on the Senate contested calendar.

Saluda River Trout Moratorium (S.800, Sen. Phil Shoopman) OPPOSE 
This bill would impose a moratorium on permits for a federally funded trout enhancement project proposed for the South Saluda River in Greenville County.  This project will not disturb the river’s flow or public recreation opportunities, and the public would continue to have foot access. South Carolina has lost over 90% of its original habitat for trout. The Senate Fish Game and Forestry Subcommittee (Sen. Chip Campsen- Chair, Mike Fair, Greg Gregory, John Land, Shane Martin, Vincent Sheheen and Danny Verdin) postponed its Thursday, May 12 meeting.

Incandescent Light Bulb Freedom Act (H. 3735 by Rep. Dwight Loftis) OPPOSE 
This bill seeks to exempt South Carolina from federal energy efficiency standards that passed with bipartisan support in 2007 to require 25-30% energy efficiency gains by 2014 and three-times more efficient light bulbs by 2020.  The bill would skirt interstate commerce by promoting the in-state manufacturing of old fashioned and wasteful incandescent light bulbs.  The full LCI Committee will likely discuss this bill at its next meeting on Thursday, May 19 at 9:30 am in Gressette Room 209.

In the House

Conservation Bank Sunset Clause (H.3083, Rep. Mike Pitts/S.138, Sen .Chip Campsen) PRIORITY
H.3083 removes the Sunset Clause that would close the Bank in 2013.  The House adjourned debate on this bill again last week and will continue their debate this week.  Rep. Pitts will offer an amendment extending the Sunset to 2023 in order to push the bill out of the House.  (The Senate may take it up this year if two-thirds agree to do so.)  Email House members today to ask them to support amending H.3083 to no less than a 10 year Sunset extension this week.

Commercial Center Revitalization Act (H.3604, Rep. James Smith) SUPPORT
This concurrent resolution encourages the Council of Governments to adopt ordinances to enable the retrofitting of shopping centers into dense, walkable, mixed-use town centers, while lessening environmental impacts on the state. We thank the full LCI Committee (Rep. Bill Sandifer- Chair, Grady Brown, Shannon Erickson, Carl Anderson, Jimmy Bales, Eric Bedingfield, Bill Bowers, Joan Brady, Kris Crawford, Mike Forrester, Mike Gambrell, Jackie Hayes, Phillip Lowe, David Mack, Dennis Moss, Steve Parker, Gene Pinson and Mac Toole) which gave this bill a unanimous favorable report last week. H.3604 could come up for a vote by the full House as early as this week.

DNR Restructuring (H.3049, Rep. Alan Clemmons) OPPOSE
This legislation would move DNR to the Governor’s Cabinet and relegate the DNR Board to an advisory role. DNR has a successful record spanning over a century of protecting our natural resources and restoring wildlife. Under the current structure hunters and anglers can express concerns to the Board and work with them to promote new projects and innovations. With the passage of this bill, sportsmen who regularly interact with DNR leadership could lose access to the Director who would change with each administration (possibly every 4 years). Also, with no professional requirements in place, under a cabinet structure a Governor can appoint a DNR Director with little experience or qualifications. Because DNR is the commenting agency on environmental permits, it needs to remain an independent agency to provide unbiased permit decisions. A House Wildlife Subcommittee voted 2-2 to give this bill a favorable report last week, so the bill did not have the votes nee! ded to pass. We’d like to thank Rep. Ted Vick, Chair of the Subcommittee and Rep. Kenneth Hodges for voting against H.3049, and Rep. Davey Hiott for raising several good points about fallacies in the legislation. (Representatives Bill Hixon and Kevin Ryan voted in favor of the bill.) 

DHEC Permit Review (H.3569, Rep. Dwight Loftis) MONITOR
This bill allows DHEC wetland permit applicants to review the DHEC draft permit and discuss the draft with DHEC personnel. We advocate amending this bill to allow ALL interested or affected parties, in addition to the permit applicants, to have the right to request review of draft permits. The House Environmental Affairs I Subcommittee (Rep. David Hiott- Chair, Bill Crosby, Chandra Dillard and Chris Murphy) will discuss this bill Wednesday, May 18 at 8:30 am in Blatt Room 410.

Community Land Trust Act (H.3676, Rep. James Smith) MONITOR
This bill more clearly defines in state law that the purpose of a community land trust (CLT) is to hold legal and equitable title to land for future lease for affordable housing. The bill states that a CLT provides for mutual ownership and control by the community including the owners and renters of CLT homes and apartments. Current state law has no such provision. The full Judiciary Committee (Rep. Jim Harrison- Chair, James Smith, George Hearn, Karl Allen, Bruce Bannister, Boyd Brown, Alan Clemmons, Derham Cole, Greg Delleney, Laurie Funderburk, Dan Hamilton, Jenny Horne, Peter McCoy, Walton McLeod, Wendy Nanney, Todd Rutherford, Bakari Sellers, Garry Smith, Mike Sottile, Leon Stavrinakis, Eddie Tallon, Thad Viers, David Weeks, Seth Whipper and Tom Young) will discuss this bill Tuesday, May 17 at 2:30 pm, or one and a half hours after the House adjourns, whichever is later, in Blatt Room 516.

Provided by Debbie Parker of Conservation Voters of S.C.

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