South Carolina residents and visitors alike appreciate and value our beaches, mountains, and the unfettered flow of our rivers. They marvel at the hundreds of thousands of acres of wild spaces, including barrier islands, ridges, rolling hills, estuaries, cypress swamps, and upland forests. Yet it takes constant vigilance to protect these life-sustaining natural systems, especially at a time when population growth and the climate crisis are exacerbating the impact of harmful projects and polluting activitiesSupport Our Work
Last year marked the 50th anniversary of the Clean Water Act, the landmark law enacted in 1972 in response to the declining state of US waters, including Ohio's Cuyahoga River catching on fire.
Yet fifty years later, water and hazardous chemicals still mix too often, too easily and too predictably in certain ZIP codes. At SCELP, we know that even if pollution and toxic contamination are somewhat localized, we all breathe the same air, drink the same water and live off the same land.
Industrial pollution is still a major problem today simply because major polluters across the nation were allowed to dump in the South and find other sacrifice zones to operate within. Thanks to the early vision and success of SCELP under our founder Jimmy Chandler’s leadership, we were able to force the shutdown of the Safety-Kleen (formerly Laidlaw) Pinewood landfill, the Tyger River incinerator and the Thermal-KEM incinerator in Rock Hill, while also fighting and preventing the creation of mega-dumps in rural Marlboro and Laurens Counties.
And today, we are carrying on Jimmy’s legacy, taking on important cases like challenging DHEC’s authorization to fill Gadsden Creek in Charleston while not giving up on pushing for swift cleanup of the Bramlett site in Greenville’s Southernside community. And we’re advocating for access to safe, affordable and reliable drinking water across the state – asking for limits on harmful PFAS chemicals and for protective regulations for water storage tanks.
While we may not see rivers catching on fire anymore, the disproportionate burden of pollution and environmental harm on marginalized communities must remain front and center, if we are truly looking for systemic solutions to increasingly daunting challenges of worsening environmental crises and climate change.
Two landmark live oak trees, one 60 inches in diameter and one 43 inches in diameter, and both estimated to be nearly 200 years old, were under threat by developers attempting to clear the land for five homes in Port Royal.
We are representing our clients in challenging a DHEC permit authorizing dredging and excavating critical area salt marsh in order to convert a unique and highly valuable freshwater pond and wetland system into a saltwater mitigation bank.
The Department of Health and Environmental Control allowed four beachfront property owners leave an illegal sandbag seawall on the public beach as a so-called experiment. We are seeking both state and federal relief on behalf of the Coastal Conservation League.
South Carolina’s natural environment and the health of human and wildlife communities that it supports are threatened by land use decisions every day. On the issue of mining, we see and feel the increased need for lawyers willing and able to stand up for the wild side.
For 13 years and counting, SCELP and our partners have relentlessly—and successfully—fought back against a developer's efforts to build 50 houses on this fragile and iconic sandy inlet on Kiawah Island.
Since 2016, developers have attempted to build a luxury resort on Bay Point Island, a biologically rich barrier island at the mouth of Port Royal Sound. The plan includes 50 villas, shops, restaurants, bars, spas and fitness centers, along with 10 septic systems.
Perhaps more than anywhere else in the state, suburban sprawl into rural and agricultural lands is plaguing Greenville County, not just in terms of environmental quality but also in terms of overall quality of life. We have been working with citizens groups in the southern and northern parts of the County, and we are now in court on their behalf.