After months of debate, this week business and environmental groups reached a compromise regarding amendments to South Carolina’s Pollution Control Act. In the wake of the uncertainty created by the SC Supreme Court’s Smith Land ruling, environmental groups have been advocating for the creation of an isolated wetlands regulatory program. The business community objected, noting that any such program should be developed outside the Pollution Control Act and with input from various stakeholders. The two sides have agreed to the creation of an isolated wetlands task force to study and make recommendations to the General Assembly concerning protection mechanisms to preserve isolated wetlands, such as Carolina Bays. The task force will report its findings to the General Assembly in 2013.
The sides have also reached an agreement on a private right of action under the statute. Although environmental groups sought to amend the statute to incorporate a private right of action, the business community opposed this effort. Under the compromise, individuals will be allowed to petition the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), rather than initiating a lawsuit, if they believe an individual or company is operating without a required permit.