December 10, 2021

Ending the Year on a High Note! | December E-News

Dear Friend,

2021 has been an incredible year for Your Lawyers for the Wild Side, and we have you to thank. Together, we forced lax regulators to do their job of reviewing and issuing new authorizations for outdated water pollution permits at coal plants, we protected the precious tidelands of Captain Sams Spit, and achieved many other wins across the state. The Supreme Court's favorable opinion in our Pickens County coal ash landfill case this week was the cherry on top of this banner year of major legal victories.

But as you'll read below, our work is far from over. This past month, we called on regulators to improve their oversight of "forever chemicals" in drinking water, and we again stepped up to protect from Bay Point Island from the threat of development. With your support, the SCELP team is ready and eager to take on these important fights.

Looking ahead to 2022, we set ambitious plans to reach our vision that our land, water and communities are protected and state laws and policies prioritize natural systems that sustain life. You can find more details in our upcoming winter newsletter arriving in mailboxes soon. If you're not already on our mailing list and would like to receive a copy, please send your mailing address to Alison Geer at alison@scelp.org.

Wishing you and your family a wonderful holiday season,

Amy E. Armstrong

Supreme Court Victory for Pickens County!

Great news! On Wednesday, the South Carolina Supreme Court issued a favorable opinion in our Pickens County coal ash landfill case. The issue surrounds a municipal landfill permit that was modified by the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) to change the design and pave the way for disposal of much more noxious waste, including coal ash, without any public notice. This is a major victory for Pickens County and the self-determination of its residents. Learn more ...  

'Forever Chemicals' in Rural Waters

In Darlington County, we are working with residents whose wells have been contaminated with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) through polluted sludge. These so-called “forever chemicals” are linked to cancer, kidney disease and other health issues, and are an emerging source of water pollution in South Carolina, and the country as a whole. One resident's well readings of PFAS were found at 140 parts per trillion, twice the EPA's limit of 70 parts per trillion. “It is extremely alarming to me,’’ staff attorney Ben Cunningham told The State. “It’s another example of how flawed the drinking water issue is in South Carolina and how we have a lot of work to do to provide everybody with good drinking water.’’ Read more about our work to improve the regulatory system to better protect drinking water and public health.

Action Taken Against Bay Point Septic Permit

Bay Point Island, a pristine and biologically rich barrier island, is unsuitable for development. However, in October we discovered that DHEC issued a septic tank permit on the island for a villa. On behalf of the Gullah/Geechee Fishing Association, we filed an appeal to the DHEC Board asking it to reverse the staff decision to issue the permit. As staff attorney Leslie Lenhardt told the Island Packet, members of association derive their livelihood and sustain themselves by fishing, especially around the Port Royal Sound and in and around Bay Point. “It’s an erosional island,” she added. “If they build this and the island erodes, that public beach is gone.” Learn more ... 

Hilton Head Seawall Case Restored

Since our initial challenge against an illegal seawall on Hilton Head two years ago, we pursued a resolution seeking a DHEC interpretation and application of state law that would prevent structures like this in the future. After all, the property owners erected the 450-foot seawall on the beach's critical area without obtaining a critical area permit from DHEC. But lacking any meaningful outcome, last month on behalf of the Coastal Conservation League and a property owner adjacent to the seawall, we filed a motion to restore the case to the active docket. Read more ... 

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