On Record is a regular feature which lets South Carolina’s policy-makers speak their mind about the issues most important to them. If you’re interested in guest-blogging for On Record, email PPR Editor Logan Smith. Today’s column is from Ann Timberlake, Executive Director of the Conservation Voters of South Carolina.
We can grow jobs that stay here by building on our natural and human assets. South Carolina’s conservation community supports the following 2012 Conservation Common Agenda priorities:
Clean energy fuels new investments. We expect new legislation filed in the Senate to set realistic renewable energy goals for utilities and provide cost recovery mechanisms for them to be successful. Another bill needing Senate approval is Solar Tax Credits (H.3346/Rep. Dwight Loftis). It passed the House last year and it’s needed to keep SC competitive with neighboring states by increasing the solar credits from 25% to 35%. There is also broad consensus for legislation to update building energy codes to the 2009 IECC standard. Promoting energy efficiency is a win-win with the potential to create 22,000 new jobs by 2025 – the equivalent of bringing six new Boeing plants to our State.
Natural resources are priceless. Since 2004, the Conservation Bank has protected over 150,000 acres of SC’s most valuable forest, farms and waters at the bargain price of $534 per acre. The Bank is funded with a small percentage from the deed stamp tax and could generate as much as $9 million in 2012 for natural resource protection. The future of the Bank, however, is threatened by a “sunset” provision that would shut its doors in 2013. The Sunset Extension Bill (H.3083/Rep. Mike Pitts) would keep the Bank open another ten years.
Recycling grows jobs. The Alcoholic Beverage Container Recycling Bill (S.461/Sen. Ray Cleary) will provide a sustainable stream of plastic, glass, cardboard and aluminum that will attract more processors and manufacturers to South Carolina. The cost is comparable to the price of sending waste to landfills and the benefits are proven; in 2009, the recycling industry created 1,354 new jobs and had an economic impact of $6.5 billion.
Transportation moves business. We urge that any DOT reform package include the requirement that funding decisions, even those of the State Infrastructure Bank, be subject to objective, criteria-based prioritization and a “fix it first” approach. Our roads are the 6th most dangerous in the nation. We need a statutory commitment to allocate the lion’s share of funding to maintenance and repair of the roads and bridges that facilitate trade and commerce.
Water is “savings in the bank.” The Supreme Court recently ruled that the historic Pollution Control Act of 1972 guarantees that citizens have a say in what happens to the water they depend on for recreation, drinking and their livelihood. The decision requires a permit to discharge pollutants into ground and surface water, including state wetlands currently at risk. Rather than weaken the PCA, we want legislators to demand that DHEC do its job and propose fair and reasonable regulations to permit development in state wetlands.
The Conservation Common Agenda is coordinated by Conservation Voters and supported by over forty conservation organizations. For more information about specific issues, visit www.makeconservationcount.org.