Education Law Update | 2021 Back-to-School Edition

2021 COVID Education Law Update_8.18.21_feature

The 2021-22 academic year is upon us, and Wyche’s Education Law team is here to help school leaders in South Carolina make this year a great one, despite the many challenges and questions you may be facing. Here is a summary of some of the key changes in laws and regulations that may affect your…
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New Executive Order Directs Sweeping Re-evaluation of Title IX Rules

New Executive Order Directs Sweeping Re-evaluation of Title IX Rules

On March 8, 2021, the Biden administration issued an Executive Order on “Guaranteeing an Educational Environment Free from Discrimination on the Basis of Sex, Including Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity.” The Order specifically calls for a review of rules implementing Title IX, the federal civil rights law that bans discrimination on the basis of sex in…
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S.C. Supreme Court Addresses Faculty Handbooks and Tenure

S.C. Supreme Court Addresses Faculty Handbooks and Tenure The South Carolina Supreme Court speaks only rarely on issues directly relevant to higher education. However, last week’s decision in Crenshaw v. Erskine College has significant implications for colleges and universities. While the lengthy opinion is likely to influence a wide variety of legal decisions concerning colleges…
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General Assembly to Consider Reauthorization of State Conservation Bank

Reauthorization of the State Conservation Bank is before the General Assembly this year, with the current authorization set to expire in 2018. Since its founding in 2002, the State Conservation Bank has been the vehicle for protection of some 290,000 acres in South Carolina, including wetlands, forests, farmland, and historic sites. The Bank funds both…
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Trump Taps Oklahoma AG to Lead EPA

President-elect Trump announced today that he will nominate Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency. As Oklahoma’s AG, Mr. Pruitt has been a frequent opponent of EPA initiatives, joining Oklahoma in a lawsuit with numerous other states challenging the Administration’s Clean Power Plan. Widely regarded as an ally of the energy…
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Administration Rolls Out Final Emissions Standards for Big Trucks

EPA and the U.S. Department of Transportation finalized new emission and fuel efficiency standards yeterday for “medium- and heavy-duty vehicles.”  These categories include not only 18-wheelers but also buses, vans, and large pickup trucks among others. According to EPA, the vehicles covered account for only 5% of road traffic but 20% of emissions and fuel…
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Methane Emissions Rule Finalized

Methane emissions from oil and gas wells are the latest target of the Obama administration’s plan to combat climate change.  A final rule on these emissions was issued yesterday, and it will require oil and gas companies to curb emissions from new, modified and reconstructed wells and storage tanks but not older wells and tanks.…
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Beach Monitoring Season Begins May 1

Warmer weather has come to South Carolina, but don’t confine your preparations for your next beach vacation to gym time, finding the right bathing suit, and stocking up on suntan lotion.  Make sure the water you will be enjoying is healthy for swimming by checking out DHEC’s nifty South Carolina Beach Access Guide. The beach…
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Atlantic Coast Removed from Offshore Drilling Plan

The federal government did an “about-face” today, reversing a 2015 proposal to open up stretches of the Atlantic Ocean, including the continental shelf off the coast of South Carolina, for offshore oil drilling as soon as 2021.  We previously blogged about the proposal last year, noting that numerous environmental groups as well as local governments…
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SCOTUS Halts Clean Power Plan

A divided US Supreme Court yesterday halted implementation of the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan. We have previously blogged about the Clean Power Plan on numerous other occasions—so you may know all you wish to know about it for now—but it represents the federal government’s most aggressive action yet to combat climate change. Under the…
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SC Dam Assessment Complete

As we explained in our October 19 blog, DHEC has undertaken an assessment of all Class One and Class Two dams in South Carolina in the wake of the record rainfall and flooding during October.  That assessment is now complete, and DHEC has issued emergency orders requiring the repair of some 75 dams statewide.  In…
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Lawsuits Follow Finalization of Clean Power Plan

On Friday of last week, EPA’s Final Clean Power Plan was published in the Federal Register, starting the clock for legal challenges to the Plan to be filed. We have previously blogged about the Clean Power Plan in August 2015 and June 2014, but the rule became final only this past week. As we have explained…
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DHEC Issues Emergency Orders on Dams

On Friday, October 16, DHEC announced that it was issuing emergency orders requiring remedial actions at some 63 dams statewide.  This decision follows the record flooding in South Carolina in early October, during which some 36 dams failed. Most of the dams subject to the emergency orders are in the Midlands, which saw some of…
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Final Revisions to Agricultural Worker Protection Standard

EPA has rolled out a final rule revising the 1992 Agricultural Worker Protection Standard (WPS).  As we explained in our blog post about the draft rule in February 2014, the WPS protects the nation’s 2 million farm workers from risks that accompany the use of pesticides. Changes in the final rule include annual mandatory training for…
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EPA Announces New Ozone Standard

On Thursday, October 1 EPA announced a final rule setting a new standard for ground level ozone.  The new limit of 70 parts per billion is significantly lower than the current level of 75 parts per billion but not as low as the draft rule EPA initially proposed in late 2014 of between 65 to 70…
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New Leadership at Upstate Forever

Upstate Forever, one of South Carolina’s leading environmental and conservation organizations, announced last week that Andrea Cooper has been selected as its new executive director. Cooper will fill the considerable shoes of Brad Wyche, who left Wyche PA in 1998 to found Upstate Forever and has served as its executive director since that time. Cooper…
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Administration Announces New Clean Power Plan

This week President Obama and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy rolled out a long-awaited new rule addressing carbon emission standards for U.S. power plants. The new rule requires a 32% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 from levels in 2005—a target actually more ambitious than the rule EPA first proposed last year, which we discussed on…
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EPA Announces 1 Million in Grants for Brownfield Sites in SC

In late May EPA announced that three recipients in South Carolina will receive grants totaling 1 million dollars for the cleanup of brownfield sites for the cleanup and redevelopment of brownfield sites.  This year’s recipients are all in the Upstate, with the City of Greenwood receiving $200,000, the Pelzer Heritage Commission $400,000, and the City of Saluda…
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S.C. Senate Approves Heigel to Lead DHEC

The S.C. Senate voted to confirm Catherine Heigel as the next director of DHEC. She will assume her new position immediately. The agency announced this news in a press release, which you can read here.

DHEC Names Choice for New Director

The Board of the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control has named Catherine Heigel of Greenville as its choice to head the agency for the next four years.  Heigel, who currently works as an attorney with Elliott Davis Decosimo in Greenville, served as president of Duke Energy South Carolina from 2010 to 2012 and…
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Public Comment Period to Close March 30 on Plan for Offshore Oil Development

In late January 2015 the Department of the Interior took a tentative step toward allowing oil drilling off the coast of South Carolina and several other Southeastern states. The Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management released a Draft Proposed Program (DPP) for 2017-2022 and for the first time has proposed opening areas off the South…
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EPA Releases Strategic Plan for 2014-2018

The Environmental Protection Agency has released for public comment a draft strategic plan for the agency’s next four years.  The Draft FY 2014-2018 EPA Strategic Plan (the “Plan”) is used to support implementation of EPA’s priorities and as a management tool by senior EPA leadership. The Plan is organized around five strategic goals: (1) Addressing…
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New Leadership at Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management

DHEC Director Catherine Templeton has announced the hiring of Sara Pendarvis Bazemore to head the agency’s Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management (OCRM).  A native of Charleston and 2005 graduate of USC law school, Bazemore has prior experience both in private practice and with DHEC as an attorney for its air division.  OCRM oversees…
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EPA Releases Action Plan for RE-Powering America’s Land Initiative

Beginning in 2008, EPA’s RE-Powering America’s Lands Initiative has worked to promote renewable energy development on current and formerly contaminated lands, landfills and mine sites. The Initiative’s Action Plan 2.0 was released in October, with the following goals being set for the next two years: (1) provide technical and programmatic assistance; (2) promote policies and…
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Modifications Proposed to Standards for Wastewater Facility Construction

In late September DHEC proposed changes to Regulation 61-67, which sets the standards for wastewater facility construction. Among the proposed amendments is a 25% reduction in the unit loading flows used to calculate headworks loading.  According to DHEC, this reduction is “based on the knowledge of water savings fixtures and improved designs of sewer collection…
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S.C. Water Resources Conference Coming in October

Registration has opened for the 2014 South Carolina Water Resources Conference, which will be held in Columbia on October 15-16.  A biennial event, the Conference is coordinated by Clemson University’s Institute of Computational Ecology and the Center for Watershed Excellence. The Conference is designed “to provide an integrated forum for discussion of water policies, research…
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SC Criminal Prosecutions Continue for Environmental Violations

The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of South Carolina continues to pursue criminal prosecutions for violations of environmental protection laws. On August 21 an Anderson County man, Scott Farmer, was sentenced to three years in federal prison for violations of various air pollution laws.  Farmer was involved in demolishing a former Anderson textile…
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South Carolina Legislative Roundup: 2014

The South Carolina Generally Assembly ended its 2014 term in early June, having considered a number of proposed bills with environmental implications.  In a March 27th blog post, we summarized several key environmental bills then before the House and Senate.  Now that the 2014 term has come to a close, the fate of many of…
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2014 South Carolina Clean Energy Summit Approaching

The Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center will play host to the 2014 South Carolina Clean Energy Summit on July 9, 2014.  The Summit will feature “high level moderated sessions” on clean energy topics including policy development, economic development, and emerging technologies.  This past week, Mike Switzer, host of South Carolina Educational Radio’s daily broadcast the South…
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Supreme Court Agrees that CERCLA Does Not Preempt State Statute of Repose

On June 9 the U.S. Supreme Court issued an opinion in CTS Corp. v. Waldburger, a case we first blogged about last July (and noted in January that the Supreme Court would be reviewing).  The case dealt with the issue of federal preemption, a legal principle under which a federal law invalidates a conflicting state law.…
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EPA Awards $1.5 Million in Brownfields Grants to South Carolina Communities

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on May 28 that it was awarding $1.5 million in brownfields grants to assist South Carolina communities with the cleanup and redevelopment of brownfield properties. As we have previously discussed on this blog, brownfields are urban properties formerly used for commercial or industrial purposes that may contain contamination and…
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EPA Issues Reminder about Regulations Addressing Releases in Emergency Shutdowns

With hurricane season rapidly approaching, EPA has taken the opportunity to remind owners and operators of industrial facilities of laws and regulations that address chemical releases during shutdowns.  “Unlike some natural disasters,” EPA explains, “the onset of a hurricane is predictable and allows for early preparations to lessen its effect on a facility.”  High winds,…
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Upcoming “Lean and Green Manufacturing Workshop”

EPA Region 4 and the South Carolina Manufacturing Extension Partnership (SCMEP) are teaming up in May and June to offer a two-day “Lean and Green Manufacturing Workshop.”  The workshop will provide “E3 (Economy, Energy, Environment) Onsite Training to implement Lean/Clean/Energy improvements” across an organization’s operations. More specifically, the workshop will help participants “measure and identify…
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Proposed EPA Rule Could Expand Protection of SC Wetlands

EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers announced a proposed rule on March 25, 2014, addressing the scope of the Clean Water Act, specifically the Act’s key definition of the term “waters of the United States.” The proposed rule will make clear that the protections of the Act apply to most seasonal and rain-dependent rivers…
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EPA Proposes Changes to Agricultural Worker Protection Standard

Last revised in 1992, EPA’s Agricultural Worker Protection Standard (WPS) is intended to protect the nation’s 2 million agricultural workers from risks that accompany the use of pesticides. EPA has recently rolled out for public comment a proposed set of changes to the WPS.  These changes will require, among other things, the expansion of mandatory…
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EPA Annual Report Shows Downward Trend in Enforcement Actions

Earlier this month the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its annual report on enforcement and compliance actions.  The report chronicles fiscal year 2013 and highlights the $5.6 billion in fines, restitution, civil penalties, and court-ordered projects EPA collected through civil and criminal actions.  This figure includes the $3.7 billion EPA collected as a result of…
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EPA Proposes Carbon Standards for New Coal and Natural Gas Power Plants

The Environmental Protection Agency has released for public comment a proposed set of standards designed to reduce carbon emissions at new coal and natural gas-fired power plants.  The origin of these standards can be traced back to 2009, when EPA first determined, pursuant to its authority under the Clean Air Act, that six greenhouse gases,…
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UPDATE: Supreme Court to Review Fourth Circuit CERCLA Decision

The U.S. Supreme Court has announced it will review a Fourth Circuit decision holding that a provision of CERCLA preempts a North Carolina statute of repose. As we first reported in July, the Fourth Circuit reasoned that 42 U.S.C. Section 9658, which expressly preempts certain state statutes of limitation, also preempts North Carolina’s ten-year statute…
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UPDATE: EPA Amends All-Appropriate Inquiries Rule

On December 30, 2013, the EPA announced a final decision to amend the “All Appropriate Inquiries Rule” to make clear that persons conducting a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment according to the new ASTM standard, ASTM E1527-13, will meet the due diligence requirement of the Rule.  We have previously reported on the development of the…
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Restructuring May Be in Store for DHEC

DHEC Director Catherine Templeton recently told the agency’s Board that she will begin soliciting comments in early 2014 on the reorganization and possible division of DHEC into two separate agencies, one with authority over health matters and one tasked with enforcement of environmental laws.  With nearly 3,100 employees and a budget around $500 million, DHEC…
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Update – DHEC’s “Permit Central”

As we first reported in March, DHEC has launched a website entitled “Permit Central” to help guide businesses in South Carolina through the sometimes daunting process of obtaining the necessary permits.  The site features an interactive questionnaire that allows businesses to input information about their proposed operations and receive information in response about the permits required…
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EPA Wrestling with New All Appropriate Inquiries Rule

As we first reported late last year, the American Society for Testing and Materials (“ASTM”) is revising the standard governing Phase I Environmental Site Assessments, ASTM E1527.  In connection with that process, the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) proposed in mid-August that compliance with either the new standard, ASTM E1527-13, or the old standard from 2005,…
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Applications Being Accepted for SC Environmental Leadership Forum

DHEC is accepting applications between now and October 14, 2013, for a series of workshops designed to educate and develop South Carolina leaders on environmental issues.  Participants in the SC Environmental Leadership Forum, a joint project of DHEC and EPA, will learn about the interaction of leadership, community outreach, and local government with the environment. …
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New EPA Application Helps Calculate and Combat Stormwater Runoff

The Environmental Protection Agency has recently introduced a desktop computer application that estimates the amount of rain and the frequency of stormwater runoff at specific sites anywhere in the United States. The “National Stormwater Calculator” pulls information from national databases on soil type, rainfall, evaporation and other variables in order to provide the estimate.  Users…
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Ruling May Lead to New Regulation of Biomass Plants

A ruling last month from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has overturned an EPA decision that temporarily exempted biomass power plants from new greenhouse gas regulations.  In 2011 EPA decided to defer for three years any decision on whether to permit greenhouse gas emissions from biomass plants in the…
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Fourth Circuit Rules CERCLA Preempts State Statute of Repose

The Fourth Circuit has recently issued a major decision that implicates the rights and liabilities of landowners and former landowners of property damaged by pollution. In a split decision, the Court held that a provision in the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) preempts North Carolina’s ten-year statute of repose for actions for…
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New Study Raises Questions about Water Quality at SC Beaches

A recent report by the Natural Resources Defense Council raises questions about water quality at many of South Carolina’s most popular beaches, especially those along the Grand Strand.  Testing the Waters: A Guide to Water Quality at Vacation Beaches is released annually by the NRDC,  a non-profit environmental advocacy organization, and is based on a…
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Greenville County Addresses Stormwater Issues with Market Incentives

On March 5, the Greenville County Council adopted a new Stormwater Banking Program and incorporated it into the county’s zoning ordinances. The program, which was developed over a four-year period through collaboration among local officials, conservation groups, and homebuilders, seeks to improve the county’s management of stormwater run-off and pollution through a voluntary, market-based incentive…
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Tune in to SC ETV Radio at Noon

Brad Wyche, director of Upstate Forever, will be interviewed on this Friday’s edition of Walter Edgar’s Journal on South Carolina ETV Radio. Topics discussed will include land conservation, natural resources, and sensible growth in the Upstate. The program will air at noon on Friday, May 31, on all eight ETV radio stations.  A rebroadcast will…
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Solar Energy Bill Stalls in SC Senate

A bill intended to reduce regulatory hurdles for solar energy companies that invest in South Carolina has failed to gain traction in the South Carolina Senate. We first blogged about the bill in February, when it was introduced in the House of Representatives.  In late February the bill failed to move out of the House…
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State Ban on Seawalls Under Scrutiny

South Carolina’s twenty-five year ban on seawalls is under scrutiny as a result of a new bill introduced in the General Assembly. Since 1988 construction of new seawalls has been forbidden, with beaches and other coastal communities relying instead on renourishment programs to protect existing construction. As reported in The State newspaper, the bill was introduced…
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EPA Finalizes New Rules for Stationary Engines

In late January EPA finalized revisions to emission standards for Reciprocating Internal Combustion Engines (RICE).  RICE are commonly used at manufacturing and other industrial sites to generate electricity and power equipment like pumps and compressors. EPA initially published new standards for RICE in 2010, but these were subject to a number of legal challenges and…
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Solar Energy Bill Introduced in House Faces Uncertain Future

A solar energy bill introduced in the South Carolina House faces an uncertain future.  The House Labor, Commerce, and Industry subcommittee heard testimony for and against the bill on Tuesday, Feb. 19, before voting in favor of adjourning debate on the matter.  One of the bill’s sponsors explained to The State newspaper that this vote…
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Solar Energy Bill Introduced in General Assembly

A new solar energy bill introduced in the South Carolina General Assembly aims to help solar power and other forms of renewable energy grow in South Carolina.  Under current state law, companies that install solar panels on homes and businesses and then sell the power generated back to those property owners are regulated as utilities,…
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Leadership and Staffing Changes Announced at Federal and State Regulatory Agencies

With the arrival of the new year, both the Environmental Protection Agency and South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control will be seeing significant changes in leadership and staffing. In Washington, EPA administrator Lisa Jackson has announced she will step down after four years of service during the first Obama administration.  Read more about…
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Changes On the Way for Phase I Environmental Site Assessments

Changes may be in store in 2013 to the Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA), which has become the first step of environmental due diligence in the real estate world. The ESA is prepared as a part of most commercial transactions involving real estate and identifies known or potential environmental liabilities on the subject property,…
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Wyche Named Official Climate Challenge Partner by American Bar Association and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

The American Bar Association (ABA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently named Wyche an official “Climate Challenge Partner.” This distinction is given to law firms that have taken steps to become better environmental and energy stewards. Wyche has a long history of leading preservation and conservation efforts, so of course we were excited…
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EPA Launches App for Checking the Health of Waterways

In celebration of the fortieth anniversary of the Clean Water Act, EPA has launched a new app and website that provide user-friendly information on the health of thousands of streams, rivers, and lakes across the nation. Called “How’s my Waterway,” the app and website can be accessed through smart phones, tablets, and desktop computers.  Users…
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City of Columbia Close to Agreement with EPA over Sewer System

The State newspaper is reporting that the Environmental Protection Agency and the City of Columbia are close to finalizing a consent agreement that will impose a fine on Columbia of between $1 and $1.5 million for problems with the city’s sewer system, the largest in South Carolina.  Aging sewer lines blocked by roots and grease…
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DHEC Announces Plan for New Group of Staff to Assist in Permitting Process

The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control intends to dedicate a new group of five staff members to help guide businesses through the permitting process. DHEC Director Catherine Templeton announced the plan recently at a meeting of the South Carolina Economic Developers’ Association. Noting that many businesses planning to open or expand facilities require…
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The Basics of Carbon Trading

“Carbon Trading” refers to a group of market-based approaches currently being used in various countries to regulate and reduce the emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.  A market for carbon trading can result in two different ways.  First, a regulatory body—typically a government—may cap the amount of carbon dioxide that a source (such…
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Court of Appeals Upholds EPA Greenhouse Gas Regulations

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has issued an important opinion regarding the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. The opinion is the product of an action brought by a coalition of industrial companies and states against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The events leading up to the court’s…
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Environmental Groups Take Aim at Coal Ash Ponds

Environmental organizations have filed actions against two South Carolina power companies that operate coal-fired power plants.  The actions seek the cleanup of waste ponds where coal ash is stored. In January the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation filed suit against South Carolina Electric and Gas in federal district court, seeking cleanup of waste ponds at SCE&G’s Eastover…
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The South Carolina SUPERB Fund: A Tool for Remediating Petroleum Releases

Since 1988, South Carolina’s SUPERB program—State Underground Petroleum Environmental Response Bank—has provided funding to owners and operators of qualified underground storage tanks (USTs) for remediation efforts following a petroleum release.  Generated through a ½ cent state gasoline tax and registration fees from UST owners, SUPERB covers reasonable remediation efforts in excess of $25,000 up to…
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South Carolina Conservation Bank Extended

On May 14, 2012, South Carolina governor Nikki Haley signed into law a five-year extension of the South Carolina Conservation Bank. The Bank’s authorization had been set to expire in 2013, but the new bill extends the Bank through 2018.  Since its establishment in 2002, the Bank has helped to preserve nearly 160,000 acres of…
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