The South Carolina Environmental Law Project

Lawyers for the Wild Side of South Carolina

Published Decisions

Only a small percentage of lawsuits result in opinions which are published and become a part of the national system of legal precedents. In its short history, SCELP has had numerous cases result in published court decisions. A sampling of these published cases is as follows:


League of Women Voters of Georgetown County v. Smith Land Co.

393 S.C. 350, 713 S.E.2d 287 (2011). Holding that the Pollution Control Act requires a permit prior to filling in isolated wetlands and that the Act authorizes citizens enforcement suits for illegally filling in wetlands without a permit.


Wayne Hill v. S.C. Department of Health & Environmental Control & S.C. Coastal Conservation League

389 S.C. 1, 698 S.E.2d 612 (2010). Holding that Hill violated the Coastal Zone Management Act by filling in critical area in excess of regulations and his permit.


SPECTRE, LLC v. South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, League of Women Voters of Georgetown County, South Carolina Wildlife Federation, League of Women Voters of South Carolina, South Carolina Coastal Conservation League, League of Women Voters of Charleston Areas

386 S.C. 357, 688 S.E.2d 844 (2010). Reversed decision of Administrative Law Court. Determined that the Coastal Management Program (CMP) and the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) are valid and enforceable bodies of legislation and so non-tidal wetlands are afforded protections under state law.


Smiley v. South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control

374 S.C. 326, 649 S.E.2d 31 (2007). Reversed decisions of Administrative Law Court and SC Court of Appeals. Ruled that SCELP's client, Jim Smiley, has standing to appeal a permit for moving public beach sand, because he uses the beach and the work would interfere with his use.


McQueen v. S.C. Coastal Council

354 S.C. 142, 580 SE2d 116, 2003 WL1957496 (April 28, 2003); denial of wetland permit is not a taking of property.


Brown v. South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control

348 SC 507, 560 SE2d 410 (2002): split ruling on permit for stock car racetrack near protected Biedler Forest (SCELP filed amicus curiae brief).


South Carolina Coastal Conservation League and Sierra Club v. South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control

345 S.C. 525, 548 SE2d 887 (Ct. App. 2001). Reversed permit for "groins" on Hilton Head beaches, ruled that groins are not allowed under S.C. Beachfront Management Act


Safety-Kleen, Inc. v. South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control

274 F.3d 846, 53 ERC 1744, 38 Bankr.Ct.Dec. 261, 32 Envtl. L. Rep. 20,438 (4th Cir. 2001): upheld lower federal court ruling denying hazardous waste landfill company's request for an injunction to allow continued operation of the landfill.


Leventis v. S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control

340 S.C. 118, 530 SE2d 643, 2000 WL 502520 (S.C. App., Refiled April 4, 2000). Successful effort to limit capacity of hazardous waste landfill; and overturned state regulations favorable to landfill operators.


Friends of the Earth, Inc. v. Laidlaw Environmental Services (TOC), Inc.

528 U.S. 610, 120 S.Ct. 693,145 L.Ed.2d 610,68 USLW 4044, 30 Envtl. L. Rep. 20,246, 163 A.L.R. Fed. 749 (U.S. Supreme Court, January 12, 2000): reversed Court of Appeals dismissal; reinstated suit and penalties; and clarified law of standing.


Friends of the Earth, Inc. v. Laidlaw Environmental Services (TOC), Inc.

149 F3d 303, 28 Envtl. L. Rep. 21,444 (1998): dismissal of citizens suit as "moot".


Ogburn-Matthews v. Loblolly Partners (Ricefields Subdivision)

332 SC 551, 505 SE2d 598 (1998): overturned state certification allowing filling of wetlands.


Friends of the Earth, Inc. v. Laidlaw Environmental Services (TOC), Inc.

956 F.Supp. 588, 44 ERC 1232, 27 Envtl. L. Rep. 20,976 (1997): clean water act citizens suit resulting in assessment of penalties for permit violations.


Keyserling v. Beasley

322 SC 83, 470 SE2d 100 (1996): unsuccessful challenge to statute extending life of low level nuclear waste landfill.


Friends of the Earth, Inc. v. Laidlaw Environmental Services (TOC), Inc.

890 F.Supp. 470, 40 ERC 2063, 26 Envtl. L. Rep. 20457 (1995): ruling that citizens suit was not barred by state action which had failed to diligently prosecute violations.


Sierra Club v. Kiawah Resort Associates

318 SC 119, 456 SE2d 397 (1995): unsuccessful effort to prevent dock construction in productive oyster beds.


Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc. and Energy Research Foundation v. James Watkins, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy

954 F2d 974 22 ELR 20368 (4th Cir. 1992): overturned federal district court ruling that environmental groups lacked standing to challenge violation of Federal Clean Water Act at Savannah River Site.


Concord Street Neighborhood Ass'n v. Campsen

309 SC 514, 424 SE2d 538 (1992): unsuccessful challenge to permit allowing construction of restaurant over coastal critical area.


Lucas v. S.C. Coastal Council

304 SC 376, 404 SE2d 895 (1991): filed a "friend of the court" brief on behalf of Sierra Club and S.C. Wildlife Federation in major "takings" case.


Beard v. SC Coastal Council, Sierra Club, S.C. Wildlife Federation and Charleston Natural History Society

304 SC 205, 403 SE2d 620 (1991): overturned lower court order which held that Coastal Council denial of seawall permit worked a "taking" of applicant's property.


In Re Sierra Club: ThermalKEM, Inc. v. S.C. Dept. of Health and Environmental Control

945 F2d 776, 21 ELR 21503, 32 ERC 1741, 20 Fed.R.Serv.3d 950 (4th Cir. 1991): overturned federal district court ruling which had refused to allow environmental groups to intervene in hazardous waste incinerator company's challenge to state hazardous waste regulations.


League of Women Voters of Georgetown County v. Litchfield-by-the-Sea

305 SC 424, 409 SE2d 378 (1991): established environmental group's right to due process (notice and opportunity for hearing) in SC Coastal Council certification cases.


Stono River Environmental Protection Association and Sierra Club v. S.C. Dept. Of Health and Environmental Control

305 SC 90, 406 SE2d 340 (1991): overturned SC DHEC certification of marina expansion in coastal shell fishing waters; established environmental groups' right to due process in DHEC certification cases.


Wildlife Federation, Sierra Club, and League of Women Voters of Georgetown County v. S.C. Coastal Council and Litchfield-by-the-Sea

296 SC 187, 371 SE2d 521 (1988): overturned coastal Council certification of proposal to dredge wetlands to create waterfront lots.


Energy Research Foundation v. Waddell

295 SC 100, 367 SE2d 419 (1988): six public interest groups challenged statute allowing members of state legislature to serve on S.C. Coastal Council; the case was dismissed for lack of standing, but the court's opinion established that federal standing rules, which are generally favorable to environmental groups, are applicable in state courts.