Offshore Drilling …
Assuming No Spills Is Like Handling Rattlesnakes and Assuming No Bites
On the South Carolina Coast, we catch and sell fish, crab, oysters, shrimp – and those South Carolinians buy ice and create jobs for fish processors, engine repair shops and pay taxes based on their income. On the South Carolina Coast, we sell t-shirts, own restaurants, gift shops; we run hotels, motels, B&B’s; we
sell tours, fishing trips and equipment, boats, homes and entertainment to tourists who are here for our wide beaches, wildlife and beautiful creeks and waterways. Businesses like Boeing are attracted to our region in part because of our natural resources; as are students to our colleges and universities.
Maybe many of us thought that offshore drilling could be developed off the South Carolina Coast with no risk. Maybe many thought, “Surely technology can handle any spill long before it threatens our coast, our wildlife and economy.”
Let’s hope the tragic spill in the Gulf saved us from our naiveté.
Killing The Goose
What You Should Know:
Every river in our District is contaminated with mercury and making people who depend upon it for a food source sick. Coal plants are the largest source of mercury AND YET, we are still talking about building a new coal plant in our area. New coal plant supporters say, “But coal plants now have scrubbers that take out all but 98 pounds of the mercury.” That sounds pretty good until you find out that ONE DROP of mercury will pollute and cause a fish kill in a 20 acre pond.
Click on The Mercury Connection for the first article in a “must read”series by Tony Bartelme.
And air quality? The proposed coal plant will produce 900 tons of particulate matter when we already receive a grade of “F” for air quality from the American Lung Association. The Port City of Charleston, has FIVE times the particulate matter recommended as safe by the American Cancer Society. And, Charleston plans to add the exhaust of 7,000 new trucks to the mix DAILY if we go forward with the port expansion.
Did you know South Carolina consumes 40% more energy that the national average? Have you ever heard a state leader encourage and nurture conservation and energy efficiency, which is the quickest and most effective cure for our problems?
LACK of SMART ENERGY PLANNING
We lag far behind in moving toward a new energy economy in a state in which we are third in unemployment, are dependent on recession harmed housing and tourism, and have lost more jobs to overseas than any other in the nation. Yet, rather than solve the problems, our state legislature sent a delegation to Washington to ask for a special exemption from new energy standards because we are so far behind. And our Congressman’s solution in the First District is to drill for Natural Gas off the coast.
Approximately 40% of carbon emissions come from buildings and stopping that saves money for homeowners, businesses as well as improving the environment.
LACK OF SMART TRANSPORTATION PLANNING
Congestion, exhaust, time, frustration and waste … a day in the life of a commuter in our District. We have networks of rail systems which could serve commuter traffic all over the District.
Click on The Mercury Connection for the first article in a “must read” series by Tony Bartelme.
EPA to Begin Monitoring School Air
By Blake Morrison and Brad Heath, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON — In its most sweeping effort to determine whether toxic chemicals permeate the air schoolchildren breathe, the Environmental Protection Agency is expected to announce plans today to monitor the air outside 62 schools in 22 states. Texas and Ohio have the most schools on the list, with seven each; Pennsylvania has six. The plan will cost about $2.25 million and includes taking samples outside schools in small towns such as Story City, Iowa, and Toledo, Ore., and in large cities such as New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Houston. It comes in response to a USA TODAY investigation that used the government’s own data to identify schools that appear to be in toxic hot spots.
FULL COVERAGE: Toxic Air and America’s Schools
PEACE OF MIND: Schools glad to have EPA sample air
LIST OF SCHOOLS: Where EPA will monitor for air quality
“Your stories raised important questions that merit investigation and that’s what we’re doing,” EPA administrator Lisa Jackson said Monday. “We want parents to know that the places their children live, play and learn are safe.”
USA TODAY’s investigation, published in December, used a government computer simulation that showed at least 435 schools where the air outside appeared to be more toxic than the air outside Meredith Hitchens Elementary, an Ohio school closed in 2005. At Hitchens, the Ohio EPA found levels of carcinogens 50 times above what the state considered acceptable.
How We Will Work Together:
- Write state and national representatives, letting them know that we may be a poor state, but endangering our health and leaving us economically out of the green
revolution isn’t a solution.
- Tell South Carolina representatives to focus on energy efficiency, conservation and weatherization and we won’t need a new coal plant,
- Tell South Carolina representatives that we don’t want special dispensation from the proposed new national energy standards because we’ve been behind on intelligent
energy policy. We need to move forward, aggressively pursuing renewable energy R&D companies, production facilities and education dollars. We want 21st century
job creation in wind, solar, tidal, wave, geothermal and nuclear development. Clinging to the past may be good for ancestors but not for our economy and health.
- Ask for a 0% capital gain on renewable energy initiatives of less than 3 carbons.
- Ask for tax deductions for solar and geo-thermal conversions, LEED certified buildings and energy reduction initiatives.
- Tell them to put more education in the school curricula at every level on energy conservation; and to invest money in state supported colleges for energy technologies.
- Ask them to invest in leasing existing rail lines to provide light rail during peak traffic times. Not only would we reduce traffic congestion, air pollution, but also traffic
deaths and highway costs. The same is true for moving containers from the port. Ask that containers be moved by rail rather than trucks.
- Write Santee Cooper’s Board of Directors asking them to forego the coal plant TO MAKE IMPACT ON THE SANTEE COOPER COAL PLANT. For more
information, see Feb. 24 comments below.
Link to YOUR National and State Senators and Congressional Representatives Contact Information by Clicking Below:
Your Link to Your National and State Representatives
Those in the Lowcountry, find your State House of Representative member by clicking here: Your Link to Your National and State Representatives
Hi! I am a low country resident (Beaufort area). I met Linda at Jim Clyburn’s fish fry here in Columbia (very sorry about the race – hope you try again!) and am reaching out for help against SC bill H3572 Shark Catch Limits, which is a coastal community issue. Text of an email I sent to Bill Herbkersman and Tom Davis is belos.
Thanks for your consideration.
As a low country resident for most of my life (I grew up in Hilton Head and now reside in the Beaufort area), I am very disturbed by H3572.
Please vote AGAINST this bill. Removing shark catch limits is contrary to studies of sustainable shark populations and is exactly the opposite direction from where we should be heading. Sharks are an absolutely vital part of our ecosystem. Removing limits will ultimately result in decimation of these populations, harming the very industries that this bill is presumably intended to benefit (tourism/sport fishing, fisheries). This issue must be approached very carefully to determine the correct balance.
Protect state’s rivers
Monday, April 20, 2009
As the state Senate looks to the future of South Carolina’s rivers, it should look to Sen. Chip Campsen, who has one of the Legislature’s best track records on conservation. He has worked for years on a solution to this difficult issue.
The Charleston Republican has the right idea about how to regulate the removal of water from the state’s rivers. He has kept his finger in the proverbial dike to stop an inadequate proposal from going forward pending changes that would make it worthy of the Senate’s support.
At present, the state does not regulate water being drawn from its rivers, and some industries are lobbying against changing the status quo.
The status quo, however, needs changing for several reasons. Rivers are among the state’s most valuable resources. In addition to being the source of drinking water, they provide recreation, feed industry, and add to the state’s heralded beauty. Unrestricted use of water could jeopardize the state’s vital river systems. Further, the state is involved in a lawsuit over the way North Carolina removes water from the Catawba River before it flows into South Carolina. This state’s position could be weakened in the eyes of the court if it doesn’t even regulate the withdrawal of water from its own rivers.
The focus of debate in the Senate has included water flow and licensing. Senators should heed Mr. Campsen’s advice to have water flow determined seasonally rather than by a one-size-fits-all, year-round measure preferred by Sen. Paul Campbell, R-Berkeley, who chairs the Agriculture subcommittee where the measure is being debated. Leaving 20 percent of its water in the river during a wet season might be fine, but in a drought, 20 percent could reduce a river to the point where it is hardly a river at all.
Drawing water from the state’s rivers should require licensing. Sen. Campsen proposes that existing industrial users be grandfathered in to continue using water at their current rates.
The renewal process would allow for adjustments if river conditions so demand. Industries that use water and replace it all would not need permits. Licenses for new
industries and users would be issued after considering the health of the rivers.
On Tuesday, the debate will continue in Sen. Campbell’s Agriculture subcommittee. The former Alcoa executive is concerned that tighter regulations would limit industry’s growth and discourage economic development.
But without restrictions, state rivers may soon be drained of too much water, leaving them unfit for recreational use, inhospitable to the state’s wildlife and inadequate for industry. That would be an unconscionable waste of a vital natural resource.
Thomas Friedman, NY Times
LK, March 9, 2009
DNR red flag on power plant
The state’s top environmental board recently approved an air quality permit for a new coal-fired power plant, despite objections raised by the state Department of Natural Resources. But the vetting process for the project continues, and DNR’s broad environmental objections should heighten the awareness of potential hazards.
Indeed, DNR’s objections are so extensive that the agency altogether opposes “the permitting, construction and operation of this facility.” DNR Director John Frampton made it clear that his agency will battle the state-sponsored project through the permitting process, next involving federal environmental regulators.
In a letter to the board of the state Department of Health and Environmental Control, Mr. Frampton cited concerns about mercury pollution and carbon dioxide emissions from the power plant. Last month, the DHEC board voted 4-2 to uphold the staff’s issuance of the permit. But the air permit is only the first of several environmental hurdles that Santee Cooper must surmount before it can build the plant. And DNR officials are concerned about other shortcomings in the public utility’s plans.
For example, DNR questions Santee Cooper’s long-range proposal to store ash in pits near the Pee Dee River. Mr. Frampton cited a recent spill from an ash-storage pit serving a power plant in Tennessee that caused environmental damage so extensive that its mitigation could top $1 billion. In his letter, he noted the presence of important wildlife habitat along the Pee Dee that he says will be jeopardized. In conclusion, he said that “DNR is opposed to the approval
of any environmental permits” for the power plant.
DNR joined Gov. Mark Sanford in opposing the $1.25 billion project, designed to provide Santee Cooper’s power needs to the Grand Strand. The governor describes the coal-fired plant as stopgap technology and says Santee Cooper would do better to await the construction of a nuclear plant that could generate power with fewer problems.DNR was sharply chided by Santee Cooper President and CEO Lonnie Carter for its “11th hour criticism” of the coal-fired plant. In a letter to DHEC, Mr. Carter said the objections were “misplaced and untimely and should be given no consideration” by the DHEC board.
Although the DHEC board endorsed staff’s decision to issue an air permit to the quasi state agency for the power plant, DNR’s broad objections should not go unanswered. In his stated objection to the project, Mr. Frampton says he is “obligated … to stand for the protection of natural resources.” Santee Cooper’s contention that the coal-fired plant presents no significant environmental hazard to the state should be thoroughly examined as the permitting process continues.
The importance of preserving South Carolina’s environment demands the fullest scrutiny of what has become an increasingly controversial project.
Copyright © 1997 – 2008 the Evening Post Publishing Co.
Want to keep SC from becoming the “pay toilet” of the United States?
Senate bill calls for megadump moratorium – contact your state legislators
BY NICK NEEDHAM; MORNING NEWS COLUMBIA BUREAU; NNEEDHAM@FLORENCENEWS.COM
COLUMBIA — A proposed megadump in Marlboro County could be derailed under a proposed bill in the S.C. Senate. Sen. Gerald Malloy, D-Hartsville, introduced the bill that would put a moratorium on all proposed new or expanded mega-dumps in the state until 2011.
“We’ve got to make certain that we don’t become the dumping ground of the rest of the country,” Malloy told a Senate subcommittee Thursday. “I don’t want my district to be the bookends of the landfills in this state.”
Malloy, who represents portions of Marlboro, Darlington, Chesterfield and Lee counties, said a megadump already in Lee County has drawn the ire of local residents.
The proposed site for the Marlboro County landfill is about 900 acres near Wallace, which is in the northern part of the county near the North Carolina border.
The Solid Waste Management Act passed in 1991 requires major landfills to be 75 miles apart. While the one proposed in Marlboro County meets the requirement, if built, the Pee Dee would have more than double the capacity for waste removal than it needs. A referendum vote November in Marlboro County on whether the dump should be built found that 94 percent of county residents opposed to the idea.
Most of the waste buried in the megadumps comes from out of state, leading Gov. Mark Sanford to propose raising the state’s garbage fees to discourage the out-of-state waste. The “tipping fee” would be $3 for every ton of garbage.
The megadump in Lee County has one of the largest railyards in the state to help being in tons of garbage from other states. “These landfills come to South Carolina not because the geology is right, but because the political climate is right,” said Sen. Phil Leventis, D-Sumter. “We need to find a way to take care of our needs and have the capacity to meet that but not open ourselves up to be a dumping ground.“
Leventis was critical of the state’s Department of Health and Environmental Control, accusing it of handing out permits to anyone who applied for one.
“We clearly have capacity issues in this state,” said Heather Spires of the Coastal Conservation League. “We have twice as much capacity as we need.“
Spires’ group supports the bill, saying DHEC’s regulations are flawed and must be revised before any new megadumps are built in the state.
If passed, the bill would prevent DHEC from considering a landfill permit until Dec. 31, 2010, while the agency studies the effects these megadumps are having on the
The interest in the bill from lawmakers and citizens, who filled the meeting room Thursday hoping for a chance to speak, has led the subcommittee to hold a public hearing on the bill in two weeks.
But Malloy said the bill is pretty straightforward.
“Once you build a landfill, it’s done,” he said. “We at some point in time have to exercise the political will for what is the right thing to do.”
Good News: Mercury plan shot down Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2009 The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday effectively snuffed an industry-backed effort to allow the buying and selling of mercury emission credits, a plan critics derided as a multimillion-dollar giveaway to polluters. Read story.
Bad News: Click for the full story on mercury from Tony Bartleme’s exceptional reporting. Reach Tony Bartelme at 843-937-5554 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Friday, August 24, 2012 12:01 a.m.
The Post and Courier
Get real on S.C. energy
BY HAMILTON DAVIS
A substantive debate on South Carolina’s antiquated energy policies remains elusive, and the trumpeting for oil and gas development off our shores seems to have manifested itself as a poor substitute. Just in time for this year’s presidential election, recent editorials by leaders at the S.C. Manufacturers Alliance and the S.C. Chamber of Commerce have laid out a number of specious arguments pushing for more drilling.
Notably absent from their enthusiasm for energy security and economic development is any mention of our vast in-state renewable energy potential and our woeful national ranking of 46th in energy efficiency. Ignoring the energy resources that are available within our borders also ignores the billions of dollars and thousands of jobs that South Carolina exports each year as we import coal, uranium, natural gas and petroleum from other states and countries.
The available geologic data reveals there is relatively little potential for oil and gas development off of our coast. Even the inflated estimates used by the American Petroleum Institute suggest the total amount of oil along the Eastern seaboard from South Carolina to Florida represents only 24 percent of what the U.S. currently consumes in a single year. Natural gas reserves for that same area are estimated to equal 36 percent of a single year’s consumption. As the Department of Energy under the Bush Administration concluded, this pittance of oil and gas would have no material impact on our foreign energy dependencies or costs for consumers.
Any potential job creation or economic development that might accompany offshore oil and gas activities must be qualified with the explicit threat these industries represent for South Carolina’s tourism industry, fisheries, and quality of life in our coastal communities. A 2009 study by the USC Moore School of Business estimated that coastal tourism alone accounted for 81,000 jobs and $3.5 billion in state revenue.
As for our in-state energy potential, a 2012 study recently finalized by the Energy Advisory Council for South Carolina’s Public Utility Review Committee estimates the near-term capacity potential for solar, biomass and offshore wind to equal over 20 percent of our state’s current energy demand. By eliminating existing policy and regulatory barriers, these clean energy resources could begin to offset our reliance on imported energy while stimulating economic development and job growth.
Among East Coast states, South Carolina ranks second for shallow-water offshore-wind potential. Add to this the 33 firms and over 1,100 employees currently involved in wind energy production and service activities in our state and the soon to be operational offshore wind turbine test facility at the Clemson University Restoration Institute in North Charleston, and it should be apparent that this resource holds significant economic opportunity for our ailing economy.
Yet many business and political leaders in South Carolina seem incapable of untethering themselves from a 20th century energy perspective.
Certainly oil, gas, and nuclear will continue to have critical roles to play in our energy future, but these finite and increasingly expensive resources must be supplemented with investments in renewables and efficiency.
Outside of the Southeast, extensive progress on energy efficiency and renewable energy is under way. Twenty-nine states now have renewable portfolio standards and twenty-four states have energy efficiency standards. These policies that require or allow for increased investment in renewables and efficiency have resulted in substantial economic activity while having little to no impact on electricity rates.
Even absent an updated, comprehensive energy policy, South Carolina nonetheless has over 17,000 jobs in the clean energy sector. Multinational corporations located within our borders like BMW, Boeing and Google have also made renewable energy and efficiency a central component of their business model. Operating on a global stage, they understand the dynamic nature of the energy landscape and have embraced sustainability as economically desirable and necessary.
This testament to our clean energy potential should be complimented by active and visible efforts from organizations like the S.C. Manufacturers Alliance and the S.C. Chamber of Commerce to correct our policy deficiencies.
Although progress has been made in many areas related to clean energy in South Carolina, overall there remains a dearth of leadership on this topic as evidenced by the shilling for Big Oil in a state that cannot realistically impact the future supply or price of oil and gas.
North Dakota was denoted as a model state on energy development within both of the recent columns supporting offshore drilling. What wasn’t expounded upon is that North Dakota has a renewable portfolio standard, aggressive clean energy tax incentives, and ranks 9th in the nation for wind energy production. North Dakota also happens to be sitting on enormous reserves of fossil fuels that simply don’t exist in South Carolina.
It’s time we put aside the offshore drilling fantasies that continue to distract this state from developing a comprehensive path forward on energy.
Hamilton Davis is energy and climate director of the Coastal Conservation League.
TO MAKE IMPACT ON THE SANTEE COOPER COAL PLANT:
The people to bug now would probably be members of the Santee Cooper Board. Message: Santee Cooper has better ways of meeting energy needs (efficiency upgrades, renewables and natural gas) and should not be pursuing a coal plant that spews 93 pounds of mercury next to the Great Pee Dee River — a river that already has advisories warning people not to eat fish because of high mercury levels.
The plant would cost at least $2.5 billion and that’s before we include the costs of emitting 11.6 million tons per year of carbon. Santee Cooper’s efficiency programs are woefully behind those of other utilities and if it pursued them aggressively, it would not have to build this plant.
Anyone who contacts Board members should use a respectful tone because right now they are not hostile. In fact, I believe they want to do the right thing. They just need to hear from people with information. Here are links with more information:
Santee Cooper Board List: https://www.santeecooper.com/portal/page/portal/SanteeCooper/AboutUs/BoardofDirectors
The following article is a strong indictment of coal as an appropriate source of energy. The author is Dr. James Hansen, a Nobel laureate and one of the world’s foremost scientific experts on global climate. The context is the British government’s anticipated wrong-headed approval of a new coal-burning power plant in Kingsnorth. Hansen says the global climate is nearing tipping points and we better act quick. Our entire planet, he says, is in peril. If we do not change course, we’ll hand our children a situation that is out of their control.
As people of God, our response should take several directions. Here is a start:
1. Take every measure to avoid using coal. Start today – now in fact.
2. Realize that this is a serious moral and religious issue. This is not just an ecology issue.
3. Tell others to stop using coal. Any costs are secondary.
4. Advocate for the end of coal as a source of energy.
5. Make every effort to slow the forces leading to climate change.
6. Forward this article to others and ask them to do the same.
7. Learn all that you can about this fast emerging problem.
8. Recognize that ending coal is just the start of a longer journey
9. Know that anything less than this is an abrogation of our responsibility to protect life.
Thanks to Tim Hermach in Eugene, Oregon for forwarding this article to us.
Let’s get cracking on this problem. Whatever you’ve done previously is obviously not nearly enough. For all of us major changes are now visible on the horizon and coming rapidly toward us.