Home Builders scored a huge victory last week in Columbia. Legislation (H.4654) to restore the integrity of the Pollution Control Act in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling in the Smith Land Company case received final approval in the House and Senate this week. The bill was signed into law by the Governor on Wednesday, June 6th.
Under the Smith Land Company opinion, the Supreme Court held that a permit from the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control was required on any discharge into the environment under the state’s Pollution Control Act. Further, the Court held that a private right of action exists that would allow any citizen to sue an alleged violator under the Act. Both of these interpretations are a significant change in the implementation of the Pollution Control Act and would have posed uncertainty in the regulatory process, cause significant harm to SC’s economic development efforts, and expose business and industry to environmental litigation.
A controversial move by environmentalists (from Julian Barton’s Legislative Report)
Several environmental groups were a party to the compromise that resulted in the Smith Land Company bill that passed. Just as the bill was passing the SC House, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, the Waccamaw River Keeper, and the SC Coastal Conservation League filed a lawsuit against Santee Cooper in violation of the compromise language in the bill.