S.C. Rep. Murrell Smith (R-Sumter) had financial issues associated the Pinewood, S.C. landfill heaped on him like a big pile of … well, you know.

The problem? When this facility was closed over a decade ago, the state was supposed to provide funding for its ongoing monitoring.

Pinewood is not some municipal landfill disposing of household trash, mind you. It is (or was) a toxic waste facility – one located near near the shores of Lake Marion, where even a minor leak could easily become a major environmental issue.

Unfortunately the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) – the agency in charge of the funding and the monitoring for the facility – has not protected the public or its purse as it relates to this site. In fact were SCDHEC truly interested in safeguarding South Carolinians, it would have never allowed this facility to be located so close to one of the largest freshwater lakes in America in the first place.

Of course lawmakers of the day were getting their pockets greased, so … you know how that goes.

Anyway, for two decades – from 1980-2000 – state lawmakers and environmental regulators allowed Pinewood to receive hazardous waste, seemingly oblivious to the long-term consequences of their special interest whoring.

And after the facility was finally shut down, the state has been left holding the bag on a $4.6 million annual bill – one it must continue to pay out over the next nine decades.

Ouch, right?

To his credit Smith – operating on a serious time constraint – did what he had to do, taking steps first to ensure the public’s safety and then to create a process so that legislators and other policymakers were better informed about these long-term obligations in the future.

We commend Smith for his willingness to take on such a difficult issue. We hope a process will be created this year that ensures policymakers and the public timely access to important environmental information. More importantly, we hope lawmakers and regulators now realize the long-term fiscal folly of giving special treatment to toxic dumpers intent on bringing their out-of-state sludge to South Carolina.

We have no problem with for-profit companies in the Palmetto State receiving out-of-state waste – however we have a BIG problem with taxpayers being forced to subsidize their operations (same with any crony capitalist “economic development” handouts). Also, any company that wishes to operate such a business in South Carolina must price in the long-term costs of monitoring the waste they bring in.

That should never be the obligation of the taxpayers …