The Anatomy Of A (SUPERB) Scam

“MOM AND POPS” SOLD OUT BY GOP LAWMAKER … AND THEIR OWN LOBBYIST It happens every day in state government … the stories are just never told. The details are too incomprehensible. The media … too lazy. As a result, powerful special interests get away with purchasing South Carolina state…


It happens every day in state government … the stories are just never told.

The details are too incomprehensible. The media … too lazy.

As a result, powerful special interests get away with purchasing South Carolina state lawmakers, who then work with lobbyists to sneak their bought-and-paid-for legislation through the House, the Senate and across the governor’s desk without anyone being the wiser.

The rich get richer. The poor get poorer. The beat goes on.

Well, not this time …

For once, we’re going to peel back the layers of corruption and expose one of these scams for exactly what it is … a robbery.

We’re referring in this case to the manipulation of the State Underground Petroleum Environmental Response Bank (or “SUPERB”) fund, a government-administered insurance pool for owners of underground petroleum tanks.

Who owns those tanks? Mom and pop gasoline stations, that’s who. Who’s doing the manipulating? “Republican” lawmakers led by S.C. Rep. Davey Hiott (RINO – Pickens) – who is a bought-and-paid-for shill for the S.C. Petroleum Marketers’ Association (SCPMA) – along with the association’s lobbyist, Michael Fields.

More on those two in a moment …

For those of you keeping score at home, the SUPERB fund receives a half a cent from the state’s gasoline tax (totaling roughly $19 million annually) and millions more in fees from tank owners. Five years ago that fee was $100 – today it’s approaching $500.


How does the system purportedly “work?” Well, if one of your underground gasoline tanks springs a leak and contaminates the environment, you pay a $25,000 deductible – and then the fund takes care of the rest of the expense (up to $1 million). Cost of the average clean-up? Around $225,000.

Administered by the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC), the SUPERB fund is insolvent – and has been for years. In fact the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) came to the Palmetto State in 2009 and declared it so. That’s why fees have been hiked so dramatically in recent years – ostensibly to keep the fund solvent.

In 2010 and 2011, though, SCDHEC dramatically raised contractor rates for SUPERB fund projects – jacking the average clean-up cost to more than $360,000. The agency imposed this 60 percent hike as a result of pressure applied by Hiott and Fields, the latter of whom represents the contractors and the tank owners (quite the conflict of interest).

As a result of this political pressure, millions in fee hikes that were supposed to make the SUPERB fund solvent again instead went toward astronomically high contractor rates.

Anyway, when Catherine Templeton took over SCDHEC in 2012 she recognized this scam and immediately took action to correct it.

“We were paying some contractors more for the same work because they had a lobbyist,” a source at SCDHEC told FITS. “Catherine  took the actual projects performed by the state lead contractors who were doing exceptional work, made room for sufficient profit and overhead, and adjusted the rates accordingly.”

The end result?

The average clean-up cost declined to $250,000 in 2013.

Good news, right? Right … well, except for the special interests represented by Hiott and Fields …

Furious that contractors were no longer getting the massive pay bumps they’d grown accustomed to (at the expense of tank owners), Hiott introduced legislation that would force SCDHEC to return to 2011 level contracting costs.

This legislation came after Fields attempted to extort SCDHEC when the agency failed to include money for the extra contracting fees in its latest budget request.

“The contractors and Michael Fields came to SCDHEC and threatened to make the agency pay them via the General Assembly,” our agency source explained.

Templeton refused to be bullied, reportedly telling Fields that any mandate would be a waste of gas tax revenues, his own members’ money not to mention harmful to the environment.

All to benefit a select special interest lobby …

Fields’ response? He got his bought-and-paid-for lawmaker (Hiott has received thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from both SCPMA and other large gasoline companies) to make good on his extortion demand.

Currently Hiott’s bill has cleared the S.C. House (here’s the list of lawmakers who voted for it) and is awaiting a hearing in the S.C. Senate.

We certainly hope Senators will recognize it for what it is – a special interest-driven fleecing – and reject it accordingly. We also hope voters in Pickens County will represent Hiott for what he is – a Lindsey Graham-style political whore.

Of course even if both of those things happen, the sad fact remains there are hundreds of other scams just like this one going on at the S.C. State House … and the public will never know about most of them until they’ve already paid the price.

Business … as … usual …

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Hugh Jass April 5, 2014 at 6:52 pm

Great article. This issue needs to get attention.

Tis the nature of government April 5, 2014 at 7:28 pm

Every pol is an amoral asshole. Hopefully one day a significant number people will understand what government is to spare them the “surprise” of stories like these, which as you point out are too numerous to report on fully for one small outlet that gives a damn. Even if the local media were on board, there still wouldn’t be enough resource at hand to find a properly report them all.

William Wallace April 5, 2014 at 8:57 pm

Nio, no, according to these people, they are not paid enough for the work they do!
They get a salary, vested retirement (after only 8 years), perdiem, in district expense (which is given credit toward retirement), freebies galore (junkets, meals, free taxi service at tax payer expense, great medical benefits, can continue to pay a minimal amount into retirement, after leaving office (subsidized by taxpayers.
And they get all of this to screw over the subserviant common man (taxpaying idiots, who continue to elect and reelect, the self proclaimed royalty). This is done, no matter the moral, ethical, or legal indiscretions of the tyrants in office!
Wake up people! We continue to vote and reelect these people time and time again. What does this say about us and our mental capacity, or ability?

ThreePalms April 6, 2014 at 11:49 am

Thanks for clearing that up. After reading the article my dumbass self thought it was about the SC General Assembly and the SC DHEC. Now I know FITS was really writing about Obama and the EPA. You are … How do you say it? f*#$*~g brilliant.

ThreePalms April 6, 2014 at 11:53 am

That was supposed to reply to Grand Tango

Taxpayer April 6, 2014 at 12:11 pm

They are all the same, Dems., Repubs, Congress and the Gen. Ass. Most everything about their lack of stewardship and fiduciary responsiblity, their salaries, raises, perks, junkets are the same, no matter which one you are talking about!
Obama and Congress, or Haley and the Gen. Ass. Trips to China, France by Haley and her Gen Ass buddies, or Obama/Michelle and their many vacations and their Congressional buddies!

SparkleCity April 5, 2014 at 10:17 pm

Convert to CNG (Compressed Natural Gas – like a lot of service vehicles are doing every fucking day with positive results) or electrical powered vehicles and this will be a non-issue

Plain & Simple!!!!!

Mike at the Beach April 6, 2014 at 12:16 am

Any chance Trikki Nikki will veto it (assuming it gets to her), or is she in on it? You would think she’d back up her girl Templeton, no?

What! April 6, 2014 at 9:09 am

She she is facing a primary opponent I doubt she would have the intestinal fortitude to veto it, more likely she is working behind the scenes to get the senate to keep it off her desk. If so I would be willing to bet it would be reintroduced and pass next year once she is re-elected.

GrandTango April 6, 2014 at 8:43 am

The EPA is involved. You can stop keystroking after you tell us that. That should have been the lead. Remember all the catastrophe-based lies they told us about the BP oil spill…????

There is NO incompetence that rises to the level of Obama Administration incompetence.

Until you broom the debris running Washington, and the country, you need to STFU about anything, and anyone, else….

WTF April 6, 2014 at 12:16 pm

Haley is selective in, as you say “Rejecting Obama” (first two words, paragraph 3).
When it is something she needs, disaster funds for ice storm, or a bail out of her Dept. of transportation, Haley is all gimmie and wanting.
She isn a selective hypocrit! She needs to go!!

GrandTango April 6, 2014 at 12:28 pm

Funds for natural DISASTERS is the Federal Gov’t’s OBLIGATION to deliver to the state’s…It’s not hold over suffering peoples’ heads, as your FILTHY lord-god Obama did.,…

It is not HIS money, you Blithering and uneducated @$$hole…
She Rejected Expansion of an already overly-expensive hand-out program, that we cannot afford, MOSTLY because he F*#ked up the economy…Dumb@$$….

Steve April 6, 2014 at 12:55 pm

Come on GT. Obama has been a terrible President but you can’t blame the federal gas tax on him. It started under Republican President Herbert Hoover, was increased by Republican President Dwight Eisenhower to fund the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956, was increased again by him in the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1959, was next increased by Republican President Ronald Reagan for the Surface Transportation Act of 1982 which also created the new Mass Transit Account, was next increased by Republican President George H.W. Bush in the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990, and was last increased by Democratic President Bill Clinton in the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993. It hasn’t been increased since.

GrandTango April 6, 2014 at 3:12 pm

Not the Tax you F*#king idiot…the PRICE of Gas under Obama has bee astronomical,. At least $1 more a gal. on average over 5 years……Do you know how many BILLIONS, if not Trillions, that has cost US Citizens???..Due to Obama’s failure…

Because speculators KNOW we will do nothing to increase production of cheaper options (No Keystone Pipeline, No New Drilling)…so they can get what they demand…That’s what liberals do…You don’t give a $#!* if people are starving or doing w/o…so you can Jerk off and feel good about your elitist @$$#$…

steve April 6, 2014 at 6:03 pm

My mistake GT. Your post referenced “…paying an EXORBIDANT Obama gas tax for 5 years…” and not the price of gas. I apparently incorrectly assumed you knew what you were talking about.

GrandTango April 7, 2014 at 8:30 am

Sometimes one may speak figuratively…And the intellectually deficient many times, are not able to interpret “in effect” references. You have to be extremely literal with the more simple-minded, and they often still do not get it (see Obama voters)…

So it’s my mistake, for not talking down to that level…Sorry…

William April 6, 2014 at 6:01 pm

Please avoid facts. They confuse and agitate GT. Facts cannot be trusted because they are biased against Republicans.

M326 April 6, 2014 at 4:56 pm


SCBlues April 6, 2014 at 4:06 pm

Haley’s rejection of the Medicaid expansion – which she touts to the masses as “rejecting Obamacare” – costs many poor folks insurance coverage. She has her coverage – her family has their coverage – why should poor folks have insurance coverage anyway? They certainly do not “deserve” it. All a bunch of BS yet she will be re-elected easily – that “R” is magical here in SC.

Bill April 6, 2014 at 4:48 pm

Republicans love their gubment pay check, their gubment health care, and their gubment retirement. They just don’t want other people using up any of the money before they have a chance to take it.

M326 April 6, 2014 at 4:57 pm


Manray April 6, 2014 at 11:31 am

I’m confused. Why is South Carolina, the Republican Nirvana where all loyal party cadres must prostrate themselves before the idol of the “Free Market,” is there a public insurance pool? Sounds like socialism to me. Why don’t gas stations pay for their own insurance? Oh, yeah…how foolish of me. Republicans only oppose regulation, special interest deals, and the squandering of public money when it doesn’t benefit their interests or when they can use it as a cudgel to beat their political opponents. I guess this is just another story exposing GOP hypocrisy.

It's About Time April 6, 2014 at 2:37 pm

Oil companies used to own the leaky tanks. They knew many must be leaking. They sold them to (forced them upon) Mom and Pop and even Sen. R and his buddy Businessman Bubba for $1 a tank and thus foisted the cleanup liability. Oil companies, with deep pockets, might have to pay for cleanups, but when poor mom and pop can be presented instead of Sens. X, Y, Z and Businessman Joe and Blow, then we can justify a taxpayer rescue. It was an oil company scam begun years ago. Why has it taken so long to notice?

Tom April 6, 2014 at 4:41 pm

Oh I get it. So rich corporations with the help of Republicans forced average people to take over ownership of their old leaky underground tanks so that the rich corporations would not have to pay to clean them up; and then other rich corporations, with the help of Republicans, got the taxpayers to put money into a fund to pay them to clean up the old leaky tanks. Now it makes total sense, just business as usual.

Manray April 7, 2014 at 10:58 am

Oh I get it. In this “free market” paradise risk is socialized and reward is privatized.

Berry April 7, 2014 at 11:48 am

Throw in a flat tax and you have all the elements necessary for a Republican to experience orgasm.

TontoBubbaGoldstein April 6, 2014 at 11:45 am

“We were paying some contractors more for the same work because they had a lobbyist,” a source at SCDHEC told FITS. “Catherine took the actual projects performed by the state lead contractors who were doing exceptional work, made room for sufficient profit and overhead, and adjusted the rates accordingly.”

The end result?

The average clean-up cost declined to $250,000 in 2013.

As Harry Browne used to say….

“Government is good at one thing: It knows how to break your legs, hand you a crutch, and say, ‘See, if it weren’t for the government, you wouldn’t be able to walk.’ “

euwe max April 6, 2014 at 3:56 pm

At least you can sue private contractors who do the same thing!

…if they have any money.

RIse Up Destroy SC Rogues April 6, 2014 at 2:02 pm

Form mobs and go to Hiott’s office and his house …. Get in his face and ask him does he think he is immune from prison.

Yep! April 6, 2014 at 4:58 pm

He probably is immune from prison. The rats protect their own until there’s nothing left to feed on.

A more effective question under your scenario might be, “Do you think you are immune from our mob?”

It's About Time April 6, 2014 at 2:28 pm

You could run a special website for political abuses in the state’s underground tank program alone, this going on for many years running. Some of your favorite political enemies, scoundrels named repeatedly here for their other abuses, figure high in manipulating the tank program for themselves and their friends. Ask anyone connected to the program but not running it.

Tom April 6, 2014 at 3:00 pm

A Republican screwing over average people to make money for rich people should be of no surprise to anyone. Its what Republicans are all about. They Represent the interests of the rich and corporate America. The could not care less about anyone else.
The fact that people with money try to buy politicians should be no news to anyone. The reason the Republican nominees to the Supreme Court ruled as it did in its most recent decision on campaign contributions was to make that process easier and less filled with risk of prosecution for the wealthy.
What is sort of surprising is that you would point this out without mentioning that you are complicit in this practice. Howard Rich pays off politicians every year to vote for his voucher scheme and other elements of his agenda. This web site assists him in doing that, and has never once called him out on his payoffs and those who take them.
So yes the populace should be outraged. But expect it to get worse and worse until they vote in people who will do something to stop it. In the past two decades of Republican rule in this state it has become business as usual.

GrandTango April 6, 2014 at 3:35 pm

Considering the number of jobs lost under Obama, and the lack of opportunity…you look like a BIG F*#king idiot blaming a Republicans for anything..
And that is before Obamacare, one of the most ignorant assaults on the American citizen in the history of the country..
Unless you’re a Card-Carrying Communist, or a Muslim, you need to get down on your knees and thank God (or the rain forest or Chief $h!tt!*ng Bull or whatever you dumb@$$#$ pray to) for the Conservative members of the GOP who have fought this piece of $#!* you burdened us with for the last 5 years…

M326 April 6, 2014 at 4:57 pm


euwe max April 6, 2014 at 3:55 pm

A Republican screwing over average people to make money for rich people should be of no surprise to anyone.
It’s what they *run* on!

regularguyincola. April 6, 2014 at 9:31 pm

People born with a little money are always more fun. Chips on shoulders are boring.

euwe max April 6, 2014 at 9:45 pm

Bungie jumping is fun too – but you don’t want to forget to put on the bungie cord, or you might find that fun doesn’t always lead to a good outcome.

regularguyincola. April 6, 2014 at 9:52 pm

The chips on shoulders part is accurate. Give me that.

euwe max April 6, 2014 at 10:53 pm

I’ll give you that, regular guy.

Unfortunately, I’m not a regular guy. I hang out in the ether, being exposed to the toxic fumes of Bushies, Tea Party Hacks, Republicans, RINOS… the stink is unbelievable! It’s a sociopathic playground where politics is just an excuse to vent one’s basic hatred for other human beings – an attempt to humiliate and bully those with “feelings” – school yard stuff.. no brains, and no apology for it. They haven’t grown one bit from pushing the weak guy down, or calling out the shy girl for having “cooties.” They get some kind of thrill out of it.

After seeing that day after day for almost 20 years, I’ve become a different kind of liberal.. one who sees Republican supporters and Tea Party Supporters and Libertarians as selfish, soulless children, pulling the legs off voles in their basement, giggling as they do.

The people who are really average probably would rather not wade through the toxic waste dump to find someone of like mind who really wishes to discuss the underlying human issues, leaving childish pranks and sociopathic taunts behind.

I have something to say, and I usually do whenever I get into a discussion – but I’m also up to pointing out the absurdity of the whole situation in the big picture view.

Even though I do consider myself the baddest motherfucker in this valley of evil called politics, and I’m not taking a second place to a bunch of little kids, or some hillbilly whose script reads like a 9 year old trying to learn how to cuss like a tough guy…. I’m really a nice guy, and have nothing but respect for someone who has a desire to sharpen his steel in a critical analysis of morality, triage, spirituality, objective truth, God, physics, the theory of money, civilization, the destiny of man..etc.

regularguyincola. April 7, 2014 at 8:53 am

You need a little professional time with one of your Social Worker or psychologist pals.

euwe max April 7, 2014 at 9:02 am

Don’t I know it – they need help!

Name calling wins arguments April 7, 2014 at 3:55 pm

Someone who wants to keep their money = Sociopath

euwe max April 7, 2014 at 8:05 pm

keep after stealing

Name calling wins arguments April 7, 2014 at 11:03 pm

Tell yourself whatever is necessary.

euwe max April 7, 2014 at 11:58 pm

When I talk to myself, I rarely listen.

Still Rich April 6, 2014 at 4:39 pm

Howard is the way way nastiest purchaser of “Lawmakers” the ‘Oh Great and Wize Ones,’ HA!, but he is, and you’ll get this Tom because your obviously familiar with SC disclosure work, Tom; “STILL RICH. :)

Why Do the Heathen Rage? April 6, 2014 at 5:35 pm

Yeh,but according to Republicans,he still needs a tax cut.You know,so he will have more money to “invest” and “create jobs”or,according to me , have more money to pay off stooges like Fits to further his favorite social schemes to make sure the masses remain dumb and docile.

Yep! April 6, 2014 at 4:56 pm

“A Republican screwing over average people to make money for rich people should be of no surprise to anyone.”

As it is with Democrats too. If you claim otherwise you are deluded.

Patrick Metwice April 16, 2014 at 3:28 pm

ehhh Tom, BOTH democrats and republicans “screw over average people” in case you’re unaware neither party has a lock on it.

euwe max April 6, 2014 at 5:43 pm

Somebody tell me why a “mom and pop” store is more important than a “minimum wage worker.”

GrandTango April 6, 2014 at 7:28 pm

Why do liberals place all value on Takers, and institute policies that punish and harm Earners, who pay all the bills for freeloaders, like you???

euwe max April 6, 2014 at 7:30 pm

Minimum wage workers are Earners, Damned Tango.
I should charge you for your education.

GrandTango April 6, 2014 at 8:18 pm

That’s not what I asked you, Dumb@$$…

euwe max April 6, 2014 at 8:24 pm

How do you know?

MPATiger April 6, 2014 at 8:42 pm

Settle down, at this juncture it is highly unlikely it will make it through gone senate……you know, the place where bills, even good ones go to die.

nitrat April 6, 2014 at 9:10 pm

In fact the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) came to the Palmetto State in 2009 and declared it so. That’s why fees have been hiked so dramatically in recent years – ostensibly to keep the fund solvent.

euwe max April 6, 2014 at 9:56 pm

When will we be out from under the Sanford/Haley mismanagement, enabled by an ignorant and money grubbing Red legislature?

When our children is learning.

Mick April 7, 2014 at 9:05 am

Fitsnews, please use multiple sources of information to gather your materials for articles. Research 101. This article is full of inaccurate and false information. You have clearly written this article directly from the perspective of the regulators without regard for the facts. Instead of sensationalizing and politicizing an issue to drive comments, actually do your homework and write a genuine article on the topic. You, and several of the commentors are seriously misinformed on the SUPERB rates issue. Politics are generally dirty business, as can be reporting, but this is not a Republican/Democrat issue. The truth has been lost in this article. Disappointing.

Philip Branton April 7, 2014 at 2:46 pm

Hmm…..How should this article be used by Social Studies teachers across our state in their classrooms to show a picture to students using Google Earth maps around every contaminated site in our state..?

What should the homework assignment be for the kids to do to get their parents “attention”…!?

Mick April 7, 2014 at 3:25 pm

Philip, the SUPERB fund is used to assess and cleanup sites on practically every road and intersection in our state. Google Earth would just look like one giant push pin collage. The homework assignment should be to show the pitfalls associated with different types of energy, both on the production side and on the consumer side. Have them drive by just about any gas station and look both onsite and on adjacent properties and see how many monitoring wells they can find in one hour in their neck of the woods.

Philip Branton April 7, 2014 at 8:09 pm


+5 points and a car wash coupon…… go..!


Kunsuslu April 7, 2014 at 9:54 pm

Forgive my english. My late response is result of feetsnews being not accessible from employee office at scdhec. Contractors charge extortion rates from glorious scdhec bureaucracy. Scdhec must have complete control of funds in order to control program. Scdhec must have three legs of milk stool in english culture of america. Leg one is control of regulatory decision making of glorious results. Leg two of stool is control over methods of achievement. Final third leg is control over funds to achieve glorious results. With defeat of extortionist contractors, scdhec achieve results of glory that gives obamacare goal of aspiration. Tremendous cost savings from declarations of success can be made while money saved may be utilized for maintenance of bureaucracy. I have much admiration for scdhec maintenance of program and even growth despite lack of third leg and massive pay bumps for contractors that were disguised by small nature of dollar amounts but clearly of great magnitude according to peoples of importance. We at scdhec are very proud and wish to drink water from locations cleaned by glorious scdhec program.

I love lamp April 7, 2014 at 11:05 pm

I like this.

Mick April 8, 2014 at 9:07 am

Thank you Kunsuslu. You pretty much summed it up. A glorious bureaucracy is exactly what DHEC wants with this program. They wish to grow the size and influence of big government and remove choice from the marketplace, regardless of how it is done and the consequences. They wish to control the free market. Typical big government.

It should be noted that the actual cleanup portion of the work being discussed is typically 75% or more of the total cost and has always been bid out and awarded by DHEC to the lowest bidder, often an out-of-state individual, regardless of merit. The legislation slammed in this article pertains only to the assessment work, comprising typically less than 25% of the cost. The SUPERB rates for assessment have increased only about 3% (that’s right three) for a real-world job between 1996 and 2011. In 2011, the rates were already the lowest of all southeastern states. In 2013 the rates were dropped by 20-30%. That is what this bill is about – not extortion or politicians on the take or huge profit. There is much more to this issue than the author or his sources have detailed. Again, research the facts before going on a rant. Be informed with real data. Use your brain. Find the truth.

The Last Beer April 8, 2014 at 8:29 pm

Hyenas on one side, jackals on the other. So hard to choose.

ELCID April 9, 2014 at 7:08 pm

This is far worse. In the beginning their was a primary Corrosion Engineer in SC. The only one with a PE and experience to make the tanks safe using Corrosion Cathodic Protection techniques. He was the central person making sure all the corrosion prevention work was being done correctly. He even held training class for DHEC Inspectors. Then SC was besieged by out of state contractors, nearly all of which were not corrosion engineers, or trained, or certified by anyone. They were practicing slip shod and dangerous engineering that directly effected the lives & properties of SC Citizens. When the the State’s only fully licensed and certified Corrosion Engineer filed a complaint with the SC Board of Engineering Examiners, it got nowhere. They didn’t even launch an investigation. The engineer quit the business in disgust. Now, we have all these tanks that are still polluting and destroying the State’s ground water systems everywhere.

A complete boondoggle allowed by the State’s Petroleum industry to get around Federal regulations with the help of the State Board of Engineering Examiners and DHEC.


Rebecca April 10, 2014 at 8:09 pm

You can’t know the half of it. That new engineering part pales compared to the slipshod assessment and contamination cleanup work, slipshod by regulators and contractors alike. Not all of them of course but a whole lot of them. An awful lot of gasoline stayed in the ground in places that were said to be “clean enough.”

nitrat May 16, 2014 at 4:34 pm

SC Board of Engineering Examiners…of the SC Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation…who is the Haley appointed head there since Templeton went to SCDHEC?

nitrat May 16, 2014 at 4:32 pm

Another TEA Party/SC Legislative Black Caucus deal?


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