When you or your community are affected by environmental inequity, water pollution, wetland or wildlife habitat destruction, landfill operations or any other related public health hazards, we are here to help. If you’d like assistance or advice from our staff and attorneys, you should fill out a help request form as a first step.
Whether you choose to submit a request for assistance through SCELP or not, many resources are available to individuals and communities when it comes to finding out information about projects and associated permits that might impact the environment. When communicating with our attorneys on an issue, they may ask you to take some of these actions to give us enough information to thoroughly assess your problem.
Below, you’ll find some of our most useful resources.
Simply stated, the Freedom of Information Act is a series of laws designed to provide transparency and guarantee access to public records of governmental bodies. Each agency maintains its own records, so to obtain a full picture, you should consider issuing a FOIA to the Federal, State and County authorities that may have records about the project of concern.
Learn more the different types of FOIA requests and how to submit one.
There are state and federal agencies that regulate environmental policies and laws. Their websites are good resources and an excellent starting point to gather more information.
South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control: Provides a wide range of general information for residents on public and environmental health, including waste reduction, air quality, water quality, asbestos, hazardous and nuclear waste and much more. You can also directly report your environmental concern to DHEC.
Environmental Protection Agency: The EPA is a great resource for learning about federal environmental laws and regulations, and for residents to find information about the levels of industrial pollution in their communities. You can also find out more about climate change, environmental justice, pesticides, chemicals, environmental toxins and more.
EPA Environmental Justice Screening and Mapping Tool: EJScreen allows users to access high-resolution environmental and demographic information for locations in the United States and compare their selected locations to the rest of the state, EPA region, or the nation. This is a great tool for identifying areas with potential environmental quality issues or a combination of environmental and demographic indicators that are greater than normal.
EPA Envirofacts Tool:
The EPA's Envirofacts tool is a a single point of access to select U.S. EPA environmental data. This website provides access to several EPA databases to provide you with information about environmental activities that may affect air, water, and land by using a specific address, ZIP code, county or city as a search query. With Envirofacts, you can learn more about these environmental activities in your area or you can generate maps of environmental information.
Written and oral public comments can provide decision-makers with new information and may influence the outcome of a permit or land-use decision. The three main ways you will be able to learn more and speak out are by submitting comments on a proposed project, attending and speaking at a public meeting, and attending and speaking at a public hearing. However, as you’ll see below, these formats differ in terms of how the public participates.
Comments: Comments are written letters or emails that you send to DHEC, the Army Corps of Engineers, and local government. The public has the opportunity to submit comments on a variety of permit applications during the public notice period regardless of whether any public hearing or meeting is held.
Public Hearing: This is a formal proceeding where the public provides oral comments about a proposed project which will be recorded. Generally, the format is opening comments by DHEC followed by an overview of the project by the applicant. Thereafter, members of the public are given time limits to present their concerns to DHEC and the applicant.
Public Meeting: A public meeting is a less formal event where the regulatory agency, public and the applicant interact so that questions about the project can be answered.
You can find out more about what is going on in your community by visiting DHEC’s Public Notice page.