Clean air is crucial to South Carolina because we cannot put a price on the value of the health of our citizens, their quality of life, and their right to breath clean air.
In the district that I represent in Colleton County, SC, a proposed coal ash landfill galvanized a community concerned about their air, their water, and their health. South Carolina Electric and Gas (SCE&G) purchased 1,700 acres in Colleton County to build a coal ash landfill. The company's current coal ash landfill, located approximately four miles away at the power plant, is nearing capacity. Residents were incensed and attended public hearings in large numbers, successfully persuading the Colleton County Board of Zoning Appeals not to grant a zoning exception to allow the landfill (SCE&G has since appealed the decision). The opponents to the landfill held out hopes that the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would proceed with it's proposed rule to regulate coal ash. Citizens pointed out existing health concerns attributed to the current site, negative economic impact, decrease in property values, and an adverse impact on the ecosystem.
The Ashepoo, Combahee and South Edisto (ACE) Basin, which represents one of the largest undeveloped estuaries on the east coast of the United States, is mainly located in Colleton County. The ACE Basin consists of approximately 350,000 acres of diverse habitats including pine and hardwood uplands, forested wetlands, fresh, brackish and salt water tidal marshes, barrier islands and beaches. The basin's unique estuarine system, the largest in the state, provides invaluable habit for a rich diversity of finfish and shellfish resources. The basin hosts a wealth of wildlife resources, including such endangered and threatened species as bald eagles, woodstorks, ospreys, loggerhead sea turtles and shortnose sturgeon, and offers a variety of recreation uses.
Clean air is crucial to South Carolina because forestry, agriculture, outdoor recreation and tourism account for $54 billion, or about one-third, of our state's economy. That's more than 450,000 jobs, or approximately 25 percent of all jobs in South Carolina. Above all clean air is crucial to South Carolina because we cannot put a price on the value of the health of our citizens, their quality of life, and their right to breath clean air. The EPA should move forward with it's proposed coal ash rule, if not to declare it a hazardous material at least require extra care in the disposal of the waste and tougher federal oversight.