South Carolina Environmental Law Project

Lawyers for the Wild Side of South Carolina

Who We Are

The South Carolina Environmental Law Project (SCELP) is a non-profit public interest law firm, dedicated to the protection of the South Carolina environment. We are the only such organization that focuses exclusively on South Carolina.

SCELP was formed in 1987 as a special project of Energy Research Foundation, a private non-profit foundation with offices in Columbia. In 1995, the South Carolina Environmental Law Project, Inc. was formed as an independent corporate entity. SCELP received tax exempt status under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code in early 1996.

SCELP provides concerned citizens and environmental groups the services of attorneys with broad experience in environmental law, and we handle a wide variety of cases throughout the state. SCELP represents its clients in court and before governmental agencies, providing free and low cost legal counsel and advice.

SCELP is a service organization. We do not pursue cases on our own, but only on behalf of environmental advocates who need legal help in their efforts. By providing our services, we make our clients stronger and more effective. In coordination with our clients and allies, SCELP takes legal action to ensure that environmental laws are enforced, natural resources are protected, and the publicĀ“s air and water are kept safe and healthful.

SCELP was formed at a time when the federal government was shifting the focus of environmental permitting and enforcement to state and local control. Throughout its existence, SCELP has concentrated its efforts on cases and projects which could strengthen state and local rules and enforcement efforts.

SCELP's clients include local, state and national organizations, including Sierra Club, South Carolina Wildlife Federation, South Carolina Coastal Conservation League, League of Women Voters, National Wildlife Federation, National Audubon Society, Natural Resources Defense Council, Friends of the Earth, Northern Beaufort County Committee, Fishing Creek Basin Committee, and a variety of other groups. Our cases have dealt with virtually every environmental issue including wetlands, water quality, air quality, hazardous waste, coastal zone management, beachfront management, storm water controls, mining, zoning and land use.

SCELP publishes a semi-annual newsletter, Mountains & Marshes, and occasionally publishes alerts and other reports. Go to "Newsletters" for all issues available.

SCELP is governed by a Board of Directors. See current members "here".

The cases SCELP selects are analyzed by the Board under public interest guidelines of the Internal Revenue Service, and are approved only after giving careful consideration to SCELP's own case-selection criteria:

  • the significance of the environmental impacts of the challenged project;
  • the value of the case in establishing a legal precedent;
  • the likelihood of obtaining a favorable result;
  • the involvement of state agencies and state laws;
  • the availability of alternative funding sources;
  • the support of South Carolina's environmental groups;
  • the availability of time and resources of SCELP; and
  • the value of the case in raising important public policy issues, whether environmental or non-environmental