Sunday, May 31, 2015 Blog

Captain Sams redux, again; Plain facts, disputed; A noose; But on the good side…

by Andy Hollis


If you aren’t confused by what is going on with Captain Sams (no apostrophe) Spit, then you haven’t been paying attention.

The latest news flash on the proposal to develop the sand bar on the western end of Kiawah Island is that the state has issued a permit for a sea wall. It is essentially like the one the Kiawah developers applied for some years ago. The first permit request was blocked by an SC Supreme Court ruling, (the third time that court had heard the case), last fall.

Shortly afterwards, the developers applied again, but this time they moved the wall inland. Same wall, same purpose, same effect — just feet inland from the marsh and covered, initially, by sand. The state environmental agency has decided that the project is, somehow, fundamentally different in its impact. We disagree, as does the Post and Courier editorial. The South Carolina Environmental Law Project has appealed the approval on our behalf. If history is any guide, this next round of legal action will play out over the next few years.

One point we and many others have made about the proposed cruise ship terminal in Charleston is that regardless of where it is located, the SC Ports Authority (SPA) should provide shore power to protect citizens from toxic emissions from the ships running their engines in port all day, 90-104 days a year, within a hundred yards of businesses and homes. The SPA now argues that low sulfur fuel and scrubbers on smoke stacks make shore power unnecessary — that air pollution would be no better with it than without it.

As the Post and Courier states, this point is, on its face, ridiculous. It is the same as saying that a car that is running produces no more emissions than a car that is turned off, (except that the car would be burning bunker fuel, rather than refined gasoline.) The allegation is too nonsensical to warrant a response, so I won’t go on beyond the editorial’s basic point.

The Charleston Mercury draws an appropriate comparison between the proposed “Outer Loop,” proposed to extend from Bee’s Ferry Road, through the center for the Ashley River Historic District, around the top of Summerville (somewhere near the new Volvo site), and then continue through the Cooper River History District and the Francis Marion National Forest, and a “noose that would strangle” the region’s historic and natural landscape.

We are optimistic that this wasteful and destructive project will not happen, in part because of the commitment Volvo representatives made at the press conference last week to environmental conservation. Volvo, Boeing and BMW have already begun to change the political culture in South Carolina from one that regards conservation with suspicion and ridicule, to one that affirms environmental sustainability as an integral part of economic progress. Officials from Volvo specifically praised the effort to build a greenbelt around the region, an effort with which the Outer Loop is inherently at odds.

On the point of corporate responsibility, the final article, from the Charlotte Business Journal, reports that SCANA, the Conservation League, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and the Southern Environmental Law Center have reached an agreement to bring 84.5 megawatts of solar energy on-line by 2021. This is superb news. We are grateful for the level of commitment SCANA continues to make in the cause of bringing clean energy sources to South Carolina.

Have a great Sunday!


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