October 27, 2022

Fighting One Tree at a Time - October 2022 E-News

Dear Friend,

October is winding down and I am thankful for the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful autumn weather. I hope you've been able to carve out some time to do the same! With cooler temperatures and changing leaves have come an exciting victory for tree protection, crucial steps forward in some of our most important cases and our first ever Capital Campaign. Yet with each step forward comes the realization that we still have so far to go and that our work is never truly done.

We announced our Capital Campaign, Building Up Our Defense, to the public on October 11 and I am thrilled to say that thanks to significant commitments from some of our most enthusiastic supporters, we have already raised over $2 million of our $2.6 million goal. The Campaign will provide critical funding for our strategic expansion over the next few years, and we could not be more grateful for all the donors who are investing in our vision.

As you'll read below, our Lawyers for the Wild Side continue to work hard to defend our land, water and communities from environmental harms. I was excited to celebrate the news that our newest Staff Attorney Emily Nellermoe helped Port Royal residents force a compromise over the fate of two landmark live oak trees. SCELP has also been in the courtroom this week in our Point Farm case and following up on efforts to clean up the polluted Bramlett site in the Southernside community of Greenville.

I want to express my gratitude for all the ways you support our efforts at SCELP. We couldn't accomplish any of this without you!

Port Royal Trees Settlement

This 60" landmark live oak tree will be saved as part of the settlement

On Thursday, October 20, all parties reached an agreement regarding the fate of two landmark live oak trees located on a parcel of land currently under development in Port Royal.

The terms of the settlement include revising site plans to save the 60-inch landmark specimen live oak tree and removal of the 43-inch live oak tree, which had already been severely impacted by heavy pruning before our client Elizabeth Bergmann’s initial request to stop the work on August 10. A portion of the 43-inch tree will be donated by the developers to repurpose into a piece of public artwork that can be enjoyed by the Port Royal community.

It's a modest victory, but more work needs to be done. As our client Bergmann said, "The situation in Port Royal is a microcosm of a bigger issue — that leadership needs to enact stronger ordinances and uphold the rights of the entire Town collectively. And that includes the trees and all the natural resources which sustain us." Read more...

Point Farm Update

Converting freshwater wetlands to saltwater affects the whole ecosystem

For almost a year, we have been working to block an ill-advised plan to convert a valuable freshwater wetland system on Wadmalaw Island into saltwater wetlands to create a mitigation bank. Point Farm Investors has contracted to sell the mitigation bank's saltwater wetland “credits” to Charleston County for its planned road projects on Johns Island to the tune of $19M. Read more...

The Tale of Two Greenvilles Sees No Ending

The entrance to the neglected and still contaminated Bramlett property near downtown Greenville

The Southernside community in Greenville continues to see rapid development as the city's population swells. Just around the corner from trendy breweries and restaurants and the brand new Unity Park sits the Bramlett site - where coal tar contamination, including carcinogenic compounds like polyaromatic hydrocarbons - have plagued the community for decades.

The contamination was discovered almost 30 years ago during the inspection of an unpermitted CSX Transportation landfill on a large tract of wetlands and traced back to the site of a former Duke Energy Manufactured Gas Plant. After years of pressure, Duke has finally completed its own investigation into the highly polluted Bramlett Site; however the nearly 150,000 tons of construction and demolition debris sitting on top of the coal reside on CSX's property is standing in the way of clean up efforts.

CSX now claims, in a letter to DHEC, that it bears no liability for the removing the landfilled material because it never allowed the dumping of a massive amount of debris onto its property. Read more...

Donate Today to Join Our Fights

There are many ways to give to SCELP and support our fight to protect South Carolina. You can become a SCELP GEM with a monthly donation. If you're 70.5 or older, you can donate from your IRA with a Qualified Charitable Donation. Whichever way you give, we are grateful for your support. Thank you!

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