South Carolina Environmental Law Project

Lawyers for the Wild Side of South Carolina

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Florence, the Environment and Accountability

Florence, the Environment and Accountability

The recent storms garnered much local and national media coverage, with one message emerging from the tragedy and ruin left behind by Hurricanes Florence and Michael: We are not prepared to cope with the mess unleashed by major storms in a rapidly changing climate.

Every month, we share with friends and supporters a e-newsletter covering recent developments in our cases and issues all over the state. The last two issues included some important considerations, including the following excerpts. Want to join the conversation? Sign up now!

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Real Hurricane Preparedness (from the August E-News)

Reversing traffic on I-26 and U.S. 501, prematurely or not, falls short of comprehensive and meaningful measures to minimize and protect against storm impacts. The list of self-imposed, avoidable environmental hazards created by increasingly frequent storm flooding is impressive in itself: manure lagoons, coal ash ponds, toxic and nuclear landfills, all spiced up by crumbling dams and roads. But the ongoing encroachment into flood plains, irresponsible clear-cutting, and wetland filling are pushing us to a totally predictable outcome: roads, houses and businesses are built in precarious locations where entire communities are at increased risk of flooding and marooning.

Admittedly, fixing flooding in coastal urban settings is a complex and costly challenge, but proactively addressing flooding in undeveloped areas could be much easier if we stopped clear-cutting forests and paving over wetlands. Residential and commercial development, and the infrastructure needed to support it, must stop ignoring the dangers of destroying our natural flood buffers (which is exactly what the proponents of the I-73 boondoggle fail to understand). Otherwise the costs and devastation will continue to increase with every new storm. Time for state-level action? To be sure.

Not Insanity, But Unaccountability (from the September E-News)

Recent developments reminded us of a famous definition of insanity: repeating the same thing over and over and expecting different results. In a matter of days, we witnessed the revival of two boondoggle zombie projects - the development of Captain Sams Spit and the I-526 extension. We touch on Judge Anderson's latest antics below and trust that saner decisions will ultimately prevail on transportation and adaptation needs around Charleston. But the most outlandish display of (bad) business as usual in the days after Florence came from Horry County, courtesy of Mike Wooten and the County Council (honorable mention for Mr. Di Sabato.)

In securing yet another dubiously timed rezoning for a 1,300-unit residential sprawl project, and warming up for another 1,600-unit development near International Drive, Mr. Wooten had the guts to testify that the site of the proposed new development (a fully forested 500+ acres adjacent to a Longs subdivision that was under feet of water just days before - see telling video by Live Storm Media) will not flood, because it did not so with Florence.

Yet, Wooten and his peers are far from insane as they precisely expect the same outcome over and over: pocketing fat profits at the public's expense and getting away with it without consequence! Unfortunately the legal system is working in their favor, whether by obsolete and biased defense of property rights (what about the affected homeowners' rights?) or by highly bureaucratized and inefficient land use regulation and enforcement, which somehow never stops the Wootens of the state from clear-cutting, building in floodplains, and putting thousands of existing and prospective homeowners (and taxpayers) in harm's way.

Since voting them out often leads only to changing the roles in the same plays, suing them is increasingly the public's last resort. While one can reasonably predict a surge in flood-related tort litigation, the public interest in conservation and environmental protection is not without remedy as we can leverage pressure points to make sure that those in or with power are held accountable and start behaving accordingly.

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Posted: Oct 12, 2018 | Page link

Beached Houses Is What You Get
Posted: Oct 10, 2018
Stinking Up the Beach, 'till It Lasts
Posted: Oct 10, 2018
Administrative Law Judge OKs Captain Sams Spit Development for the Third Time
Posted: Sep 25, 2018
Private Property vs Public Beach
Posted: Aug 8, 2018
Slow but steady progress on the Reedy River
Posted: Jul 27, 2018
The Summer Newsletter is Here!
Posted: Jul 19, 2018
Massive Proposed Limestone Mine Threatening Local Community in Williamsburg County
Posted: Jul 3, 2018
Fishing Creek Heelsplitter Population At Risk
Posted: Jun 7, 2018
Good Compromise on Hunting Island
Posted: May 11, 2018
Big Win on Captain Sams Spit. Third Time's the Charm?
Posted: Apr 18, 2018
We Must Preserve Coastal Carolina's Highest Sand Dunes
Posted: Apr 4, 2018
Automatic Stay Critically Wounded
Posted: Mar 8, 2018
Seismic Challenge is Ramping Up
Posted: Feb 8, 2018
The Winter Newsletter Is Here!
Posted: Jan 13, 2018
Access to Coastal Islands - A Regulatory Success
Posted: Dec 20, 2017
Groins - Hitting Close to Home
Posted: Dec 13, 2017
South Carolina Hazardous Waste War
Posted: Dec 6, 2017
Another Win around Captain Sams Spit, but the Developers Do not Relent
Posted: Oct 5, 2017
Opposing a 1,000-acre Gamble on the Sampit
Posted: Sep 25, 2017
Chronicle of the Most Recent, 7-day Trial to Save the Spit
Posted: Sep 8, 2017
Pawleys Island Groin Permit, Denied!
Posted: Aug 4, 2017
SC Supreme Court Will Rehear Our Public Trust Case
Posted: Aug 4, 2017
Engaging the Reedy's Forgotten Contamination Corridor
Posted: Jul 3, 2017
The Summer Newsletter is Here!
Posted: Jul 3, 2017
Business Alliance Stands Against Seismic Blasts in the Atlantic
Posted: May 2, 2017
Trump Re-Opens the Atlantic to Offshore Drilling
Posted: Apr 26, 2017
Challenging the Dominion Pipeline
Posted: Apr 5, 2017
New Skirmishes on Captain Sams Spit
Posted: Apr 5, 2017
Court of Appeals Upholds Agreement to Protect Wetlands in Pawleys Island
Posted: Mar 23, 2017
What Is Happening with the Pinewood Site?
Posted: Mar 1, 2017
Automatic Stay Attacks Threaten Your Due Process Rights
Posted: Mar 1, 2017
The Winter Newsletter Is Here!
Posted: Jan 20, 2017
Seismic Victory! It's Time to Celebrate
Posted: Jan 20, 2017
Upstate Office Opens!
Posted: Oct 6, 2016
ALC Judge Puts Captain Sams Spit Back in Jeopardy
Posted: Mar 31, 2016
Tensions Remain High in our Bays & Bears Case
Posted: Feb 18, 2016
The Heat is On against False Crawls and Plastic Walls
Posted: Feb 10, 2016
Lowcountry Giving Day a Win for the Wild Side!
Posted: Apr 28, 2015
Serious Consideration of Impacts Needed in Applications for Seismic Testing in SC
Posted: Mar 4, 2015
SCELP Director to Take Home the Silver
Posted: Feb 19, 2015
Black Bear Habitat Threatened
Posted: Jan 27, 2015
Pappa's Island is Preserved!
Posted: Dec 17, 2014
Oakridge Landfill Threatens Four Holes Swamp
Posted: Dec 17, 2014
Landmark Ruling Protects Captains Sams Spit
Posted: Dec 17, 2014
Double Your Donation with Donnelley!
Posted: Sep 3, 2014
SCELP Staunches Flow of Radioactive Waste into Groundwater
Posted: Jul 31, 2014
Opponents win round over developing Kiawah Island's Capt. Sams Spit but impact debated
Posted: Jun 18, 2014
SCELP continues to work to defend the integrity of SC's Beachfront Management Act
Posted: May 23, 2014
SCELP Board Members Frances Close & Paula Feldman spoke, among others, at a press conference in opposition to the bill destroying SC's beachfront management protections
Posted: May 23, 2014
SCELP's Amy Armstrong sworn in as municipal judge
Posted: May 23, 2014
Second Annual Midlands Celebration
Posted: May 5, 2014
SCELP filed an appeal of judge's ruling over Charleston cruise terminal on behalf of community groups
Posted: Apr 23, 2014
Mingo Point, Kiawah Island kayak and boat excursion
Posted: Apr 16, 2014
Victory in Laurens County
Posted: Apr 7, 2014
SCELP is working to defend the integrity of SC's Beachfront Management Act
Posted: Apr 2, 2014
SCELP Secures Settlement to Protect Angel Oak
Posted: Jan 31, 2014
SCELP Lawyers Complete Trial in Kiawah Land Dispute
Posted: Jan 31, 2014
Supreme Court Agrees to Hearing EAGLE Landfill Case
Posted: Jul 1, 2013
Pawleys Island Groin Fight Heats Up
Posted: Jul 1, 2013
Supreme Court Rehears Captain Sams Case a Third Time
Posted: Mar 28, 2013
Dr. Angela Halfacre to Speak About Her Book, "A Delicate Balance: Constructing a Conservation Culture of the S.C. Lowcountry"
Posted: Jul 5, 2012
The State Newspaper covers the last day of our Angel Oak trial
Posted: Apr 6, 2012
Famed Angel Oak threatened, judge told
Posted: Apr 4, 2012
Marlboro in fierce fight against landfill
Posted: Apr 1, 2012
Walter Edgar's Journal - SCETV - Interview with Amy Armstrong
Posted: Jan 25, 2012