Sunday, August 2, 2015 Blog

Acres protected, solar energy tapped, documents dumped and bicycles deployed.

by Andy Hollis
This week’s news is about large numbers.  The first is 12,000 — the number of acres recently protected in Hampton County by The Nature Conservancy.  This is great news for the environment, but the details of the easement also illustrate the importance of conservation for economic goals.  
First, as David Bishop states in this article from the Island Packet, the property is in the watershed of the Savannah River, which provides water for hundreds of thousands of households, businesses and industries in South Carolina and Georgia.  Preserving the forested land cover will help protect the quality and quantity of the water supply.  Second, the easement allows continued use of the land for forestry, one of South Carolina’s largest economic sectors.  Securing the forest for the future is the best way to ensure a healthy and diverse economy, especially in a county that is not otherwise very prosperous.
Speaking of 12s, as the Island Packet reports, the first solar array in Bluffton was just installed on a home in the Rose Hill resort.  It will produce 12 kilowatts of electricity, which approximates the energy demand from the home.  Wind Turbines of S.C. was able to install the solar panels because of legislation we helped pass last year by the General Assembly.  
It is this legislation — projected to increase solar deployment in the state 40-fold — that former Greenville Congressman Bob Inglis’, in the Post and Courier, praises for allowing South Carolina  to “lead the solarizing way.”   Congressman Inglis specifically applauds work by Hamilton Davis, the Conservation League’s energy program director.
Back to numbers, state agencies, including the S.C. State Ports Authority (SPA), often resist providing information to the public.  Not so with the most recent cruise ship terminal permit application!  The Post and Courier reports that the SPA submitted 40,000 pages of documents to the Department of Health and Environmental Control in support of their proposal.  These were released with the permit notice last week.  The public has been given 30 days to respond.  
As cruise control leader Steve Gates says, reviewing this plenitude of information would require reading one page a minute, 24/7, for the entire month.  Even Evelyn Wood would find that a daunting prospect.  We have asked the agency to extend the comment deadline so we can thoroughly review the record.
For more information on the new application, here is an article from the Charleston Regional Business Journal.
The last number is 10, the years since completion of the Ravenel Bridge in Charleston.  As handsome as the bridge is, it would be just another big bridge except for one thing — the bicycle and pedestrian lane that was added over vigorous objections by the S.C. Department of Transportation and in spite of initial apathy from local leaders.  
As this editorial from the Post and Courier states, had it not been for the work of a few citizen bicycle activists, led by Citadel professor Don Sparks and engineer Lenny Greene, with hard work and inspiration from former CCL board member and triathlete Tom Mather and CCL’s Jane Lareau, this modest 12 foot lane, which has literally transformed the way people travel, exercise and visualize the region, would not exist.  We at the Conservation League were delighted to be part of the motley, determined coalition.
So if you live in Charleston,  go bike or walk the bridge on this beautiful day.  If you don’t, enjoy the day anyway! 

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