March 23, 2022

Fighting Back When It's Toxic at the Top | March 2022 E-News

Dear Friend,

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Clean Water Act, a landmark federal law designed to eliminate pollution and achieve fishable and swimmable waters. At the 2022 Waccamaw Conference this Friday, I'll share how SCELP has used this crucial legal tool to protect waterways across the state and hold violators accountable. Yet despite decades of progress, many waterways face worsening problems from ongoing and new pollution, judicial and legislative rollbacks and lax enforcement, among others.

The Clean Water Act, like many other state and federal environmental laws passed in the 1970s and 80s, must be upheld, strengthened and expanded to meet today's problems. Lately, we've witnessed how the agencies and officials charged with enforcing these safeguards are doing the opposite. The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control's recent decision to allow an illegal sandbag seawall to remain on Debidue beach and a new Senate resolution to gut the permitting rules for the state's longstanding Beachfront Management Act are recent examples.  

But Your Lawyers for the Wild Side remain steadfast in defending our land, water and communities. This month, we sought federal and state relief in response to DHEC's authorization of the sandbags, and yesterday we filed a sweeping Petition for Rule-making calling for clearer, stronger and commonsense drinking water standards.

We can only do this work because of supporters like you, so I hope to count on your continued support and engagement. 


Amy E. Armstrong

Our Water, Our Rights

Decades of neglect, lack of investment and politics have caused unsafe drinking water conditions for residents in Denmark, Darlington, Summerton and other rural and underserved areas. Our Petition for Rule-Making seeks to close significant gaps in state water regulations to improve drinking water and public health outcomes. “South Carolinians should be provided with drinking water that is consistently clean no matter where they live and granting this Petition will move us closer to that goal,” said staff attorney Ben Cunningham. Learn more... 

Action Taken Against Sandbag Seawall

The sandbag seawall on Debidue Beach. Photo provided by the Coastal Conservation League

Earlier this month, on behalf of the Coastal Conservation League, we launched legal action over the DHEC Board's decision to allow four oceanfront property owners to permanently keep and bury a sandbag wall on Debidue Beach as an experiment, jeopardizing the public beach and endangering sea turtles. The board issued an Order in February overturning its staff's decision to deny authorization for the research, and we filed an appeal in the Administrative Law Court.

“The board of DHEC got it wrong in a lot of ways,’’ staff attorney Leslie Lenhardt told The State. “One is they ignored their very experienced staff — and the order gives short shrift to the (federal) Endangered Species Act. They should have dug into those questions about sea turtles before they issued this approval.’’ Read more ... 

Standing on the Edge

The Conservation League took drone footage of illegal mining at the Edge Mine site near the Lewis Ocean Bay Heritage Preserve.

Also with the Coastal Conservation League, we continue to fight back against illegal sand mining at the Edge Road mine, which abuts the Lewis Ocean Bay Heritage Preserve in Horry County. We were pleased to see many supporters join us in urging DHEC to deny a permit for the mine, and the agency recently responded by agreeing to hold a public hearing.

Over the past year, mining activity in the county has ramped up as a consequence of Horry County Council's decision to cede zoning control over mines. We remain vigilant in fighting against destructive mining practices. As staff attorney Lauren Megill Milton told The Sun News, “I’m going to fight like hell to keep them from devastating the rest of Lewis Ocean Bay.” Learn more ...

Save the Date! Wild Side is 6 Months Away!

Wonderful supporters gathered at last year's Wild Side at the beautiful Kaminski House.

Three fun ways to support our fight for environmental protection and justice:

PLAN TO ATTEND: The 13th Annual Wild Side will be September 17th at the Kaminski House in Georgetown. Learn more about our signature fundraiser and check out photos from last year's festivities! Details on ticket sales coming soon.

SPONSORSHIPS: Demonstrate your business's commitment to protecting South Carolina’s land, water and communities—and reach new audiences—by being a Wild Side sponsor.

AUCTION DONATIONS: Add your support to our online auction with an experience or other in-kind donation.

Contact Alison to discuss these options. or (843) 527-0078

SCELP on Exhibit: Creek By Creek  

We are thrilled to be part of the new Creek by Creek exhibit by artists and environmental advocates Mary Edna Fraser and Jeff Kopish. The installation showcases iconic landscapes and legal battles such as Captain Sams Spit. The exhibit will be on view until May 8th at the City Gallery at Joe Riley Waterfront Park in Charleston.

In the video below, watch Amy and Mary Edna talk about the fight to protect Captain Sams Spit. 

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