November 22, 2022

Forging Ahead, Always Thankful - November 2022 E-News

Dear Friend,

It might sound cliché, but towards the end of November I enjoy thinking about all the people and things in my life for which I'm grateful. And after 20 years of working at the South Carolina Environmental Law Project, the people who truly make our important work possible are at the top of my list.

This year, thanks to supporters like you, we have been able to go all in on fighting destructive land uses in the Upstate, the "destructionment" of Bay Point Island and the obliteration of Charleston's Gadsden Creek. But we are also creatively pursuing new legal protections and regulatory standards - like in our newest case, which you'll read about below - and carrying forward our motto "no case is too small" when we can help vulnerable and frontline communities. Thank you!

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!

Density Spells Danger

Dense clusters of septic tanks on the coast can endanger human health and the environment

South Carolina’s coastal areas are experiencing increased development pressures, particularly in rural areas, where dense clusters of conventional septic tank systems are often chosen by developers because of lack of sewer and low cost. Currently, DHEC does not review these septic tank permits to determine whether they are consistent with the Coastal Management Program's special rules – despite applying these rules to almost every other type of state environmental permit.

On Thursday, November 10, the SCELP filed a declaratory judgment action on behalf of Charleston Waterkeeper and the Coastal Conservation League, asking the court to rule that DHEC has a statutory obligation to review all state and federal permits, including septic systems, for consistency with our Coastal Management Program.

In addition, this complaint asks that the court order DHEC to publicly notice all septic system applications and permits in order to promote transparency and ensure that agency decisions with the potential for broad, long-term impacts are not being made behind closed doors. Read more...

Georgetown Comprehensive Planning Continues

The Red-Spotted Newt and its larvae depend on a variety of wetland habitats for survival

Georgetown County is slowly moving forward with the Comprehensive Planning process, including the addition of items that will help protect land, water and wildlife and promote the use of sustainable building materials. SCELP has been deeply engaged in the process, with Staff Attorney Emily Nellermoe taking the lead. After voting was deferred in October to allow for additional outreach to community members, we are excited to report that the Georgetown County Planning Commission unanimously passed the Natural Resources Element at its meeting last Thursday.

Some of the items in the plan include:

  • Enacting a Wetland Protection Ordinance that increases protection for these valuable systems that buffer us from floods, protect water quality and support wildlife
  • Reducing litter through a single use plastic bag ban  
  • Incentivizing and requiring developers to use sustainable, ecologically-sound materials and designs by incorporating elements like rain gardens, bioswales, and pervious surfaces
  • Strengthening the County's Tree Ordinance

Your support is critical to helping this pass Georgetown County Council! There are many ways you can help, including attending future County Council meetings, writing e-mails to Council members, or writing letters to the editor explaining why you support elements of the plan. Send Emily an email if you'd like to learn more or help us engage in the process!

SCELP Litigation Update

SCELP attorneys are still working to ensure that Bay Point Island is protected from careless development

Your Lawyers for the Wild Side have been very busy pushing cases closer to the finish line, even in the midst of the rapidly approaching holiday season. Just in the last month, they have:

It's only through the support of generous donors that we can accomplish what we're able to as the only public interest environmental law firm focusing solely on South Carolina. So, thank you again!

What's your why? There are many ways support your Lawyers for the Wild Side. You can make a gift of any amount today. 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.

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