Monday, July 8, 2024 Blog · News

Learn about the Conservation League’s Energy & Climate Program

by Emmi Palenbaum

In South Carolina, our coastal communities are feeling the negative effects of climate change, as well as the numerous other health and environmental damages from fossil fuels, and marginalized communities are disproportionately impacted. Urgent action is needed to ensure a healthy, prosperous, and just future for our state. This must include shifting to more renewable energy sources for generating electricity and increasingly electrifying other uses of fossil fuels, including transportation. We also have a critical opportunity to save money, grow our local economies, and reduce our energy needs through efficiency upgrades and smarter planning. 

At the Coastal Conservation League, we work to advance a clean energy transition as quickly and equitably as possible. We engage on local, state, and federal policy to help South Carolinians reap the benefits of affordable, reliable, and abundant clean energy. 

 

Promise and Progress 

In 2022, renewable energy sources produced a greater share of electricity in the United States than polluting coal-fired power for the first time in history. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, in 2023, 34% more electricity was generated from solar, wind, and hydropower than from coal.i 

It’s hard to fully convey the significance of this seismic shift in the energy status quo. For decades, coal was king—and its rapid decline in the mid-2010s was driven by a rise in natural gas (another fossil fuel that causes changes in our climate). But today, renewable energy sources like solar and wind are vying for the top spot: promising cleaner air, lower energy bills, and a more robust clean energy economy. Despite the attempts of ill-intentioned actors to spread disinformation to protect their polluted profits, the reality couldn’t be clearer: a clean energy transition offers a massive improvement to our quality of life. 

South Carolina has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to become a leader in this rapid and ongoing clean energy transition, and to secure the benefits of making smart investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency for our beautiful state.  

But we still have a long way to go. While renewable energy in our state has grown substantially even in the past year, the majority of our non-nuclear generation is still made up of dirty, polluting fossil fuels like coal and natural gas.  

 

The Issue 

There is no doubt that South Carolina, with its nearly 3,000 miles of fragile coastline, is under active threat.  

As we continue to burn fossil fuels, we contribute to the rising concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and subsequent warming of our planet. Intensifying tropical storms, sea-level rise, flooding, and dangerous, life-threatening heat waves are only a few of the consequences. That’s not even to mention the other harmful air and water pollutants released by burning fossil fuels, including mercury, lead, sulfur dioxide, nitrous oxide, ozone, and particulate matter, which all contribute to health problems including asthma, heart failure, cancer, brain damage, and premature death. 

These aren’t imaginary problems or problems of the future—they are harming you, your loved ones, and your community right now. With the most detrimental impacts falling upon historically marginalized and low-income communities, these threats demonstrate that the fossil fuel status quo perpetuates energy injustice. 

The best time to clean up our act was yesterday—the next-best time is today. 

 

The Solution 

The Energy & Climate Program at the Conservation League advocates for an equitable clean energy future that protects the health of our people and the well-being of our environment. We are fighting for the retirement of dirty coal-fired power plants, and against continued overreliance on expensive fossil fuels. Instead, we want to see  that the future of our economy and energy grid is built around clean, renewable energy.  

That’s why we pushed for the passage of the Energy Freedom Act in 2019, which removed barriers to clean energy development and reformed the way our state makes plans for our energy future. Ever since, we have been working tirelessly to ensure that law lives up to its name to free our state from its dependence on dirty, expensive energy sources and spark millions of dollars of clean energy investments that create good jobs and grow our economy. 

As a central part of this effort, we are active intervenors in the regulation of our state’s utilities at the S.C. Public Service Commission—which makes key decisions about our energy future—where we submit formal testimony, comments, and legal arguments. Here, we get the chance to prove we’ve got the merits: that the facts easily demonstrate the need for massive renewable energy investments, improved efficiency, and enhanced competition to give clean energy a fair fight against dirty, expensive fossil fuels.  

 

Now is the time to act 

This is only a small preview into what the Energy & Climate Program team is doing to advocate for you, our community, and our beloved environment. The actions we take today and in the next few years will determine whether the arc of our energy future bends toward more dirty fossil fuels, or an affordable, clean energy transition. 

Fighting climate change, protecting our air and water, and ensuring that there is affordable, abundant clean energy for all are challenges that will require our best efforts, and then some. 

STAY TUNED! In the coming weeks, we’ll be sharing more about our successes and setbacks, the harms our coastal communities are suffering due to dirty energy, and what advocacy opportunities are on the horizon in South Carolina. Learn more about what energy intiatives we’re currently working on here. 

Sign up to receive our energy-focused emails and texts, and follow us on Facebook and Instagram for additional tips on how you can engage in South Carolina’s clean energy transition. 


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[email protected] · 843.723.8035

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