Earlier this week, CVSC Executive Director John Tynan joined Senator Vincent Sheheen as he rolled out his 2020 conservation agenda. This bold agenda proposes or joins with his Senate colleagues on existing efforts to address the wide ranging environmental issues facing South Carolina - from loss of open spaces, to increased plastic pollution, to carbon emissions, and illegal wildlife trading.
At the release of Sen. Sheheen’s conservation package, Tynan shared “Addressing the environmental challenges facing South Carolina requires bold leadership. With this package of policy priorities, Sen. Sheheen is showing what it means to be a conservation champion. We are proud to stand alongside him and work collaboratively to advance one of the most ambitious conservation agendas that South Carolina has seen.”
For more information on the conservation agenda from Sen. Sheheen, see his office’s press release below:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 21, 2020
Contact: Meghan Durant
Vincent Sheheen Rolls Out Most Comprehensive Conservation Package in State History
Columbia, SC – State Senator Vincent Sheheen (D-Kershaw) introduced today the most comprehensive package of environmental conservation legislation in South Carolina’s history. The package currently includes six bills, three joint resolutions, and two letters sent to the House and Senate Clerks, each of which addresses a unique environmental issue facing the state.
The first bill, the South Carolina Thirty-By-Thirty Conservation Act, aims to conserve 30% of South Carolina’s land by the year 2030. Rapid over-development has deteriorated ecosystems and natural beauty across the state for decades— theSouth Carolina Thirty-By-Thirty Conservation Act would assemble an interagency task force with the main goal of protecting and preserving land from this human destruction.
The second bill targets black market reptile and amphibian sales, which are ravaging native populations of turtles, snakes, and frogs in South Carolina. This legislation, S.885, would make illegal the sale, trade, or removal of any native species of reptile or amphibian from the state. It would also ban the release of non-native species into the state.
S.984, the third bill included in the package, would require DHEC to provide public notice within 24 hours of a major spill. In the event of environmental contamination, the public should be informed so that they can make safe decisions about the water they use.
The fourth bill in the package would allow DHEC to control stormwater discharges from facilities dealing with pre-production plastic. These tiny plastic pellets, referred to as nurdles, are used to make nearly all plastic products and are a major source of pollution. S.941 aims to keep nurdles out of South Carolina’s waterways by regulating facilities that handle them and the water those facilities release into drainage systems.
The fifth bill, S.1021, seeks to increase penalties for dumping solid waste and litter on privately owned lands. In an effort to protect all land in South Carolina from pollution, privately owned spaces must also be safeguarded from improperly disposed waste. This bill would make illegally dumping waste in excess of fifteen pounds on private property a misdemeanor offense.
The final bill included in Senator Sheheen’s conservation package is, S.870, a ban on offshore drilling in South Carolina.
Sheheen also utilizes joint resolutions in the package to legislate time-sensitive projects. The first of the resolutions calls on the South Carolina State Government to become carbon free by the year 2050, tasking the State Energy Office with developing a plan to do such.
The second joint resolution tasks DHEC with developing a five year plan to reduce South Carolina’s organic waste production by 50% by the year 2025.
The final joint resolution calls for a collaborative effort between DHEC and DNR on research related to plastic pollution in the ocean. The two agencies would develop a strategy for reducing microplastics and their harm on the environment, ecosystems, and human health.
In addition to the proposed legislation, Senator Sheheen sent letters to both the Clerks of the South Carolina House of Representatives and Senate requesting to end the use of single-use styrofoam cups at the State House.
“What God blessed us with in South Carolina, we must preserve and protect.” said Senator Sheheen. “We can’t afford to wait— our water, our land, and our children are too precious to squander. I’m introducing the most comprehensive package of conservation legislation in our state’s history because it’s time we take care of the place we call home.”