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South Carolina Energy Debate: Eco-Radical Disinformation

A disingenuous “conservation” campaign is trying to kill off the one energy source that’s actually reducing carbon emissions …

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Members of the South Carolina House of Representatives are scheduled to take up a sweeping energy bill this week – legislation which aims to address the pressing need for more power generation in the Palmetto State in the wake of explosive population growth.

The bill – H. 5118 – is sponsored by S.C. House speaker Murrell Smith. A whopping 57 lawmakers have signed on as cosponsors, and the legislation – dubbed the “Energy Security Act” – recently cleared the chamber’s labor, commerce and industry committee with a favorable report.

Nonetheless, the bill has encountered ferocious opposition from the Conservation Voters of South Carolina (CVSC) – an eco-radical group which has launched an aggressive digital, mail and television campaign in the hopes of killing the legislation. CVSC has repeatedly argued the bill gives a “blank check” to investor- and state-owned utilities to build a new natural gas facility near Canadys, S.C. According to CVSC, the bill also allows the facility to bypass the state’s established siting and regulatory processes.

Is any of that true? No.

So what does the proposed legislation actually do? And why is CVSC so invested in defeating it?

(Click to View)

House Speaker Murrell Smith during the S.C house budget week on Tuesday, March 12, 2024 in Columbia, S.C. (Travis Bell/STATEHOUSE CAROLINA)

First of all, Smith’s bill would establish specific timelines for the S.C. Public Service Commission (SCPSC) and other permitting agencies to rule on applications for all future projects – not just the Canadys facility. The legislation would also establish a streamlined process by which all future appeals went straight to the S.C. supreme court – which, incidentally, is where they would wind up anyway.

Is that good? Absolutely.

This sort of permitting reform will save time and money … which is precisely why our media outlet has consistently supported it. Last fall, I effusively praised U.S. congressman Jeff Duncan for his work in securing fast-track approval of the Mountain Valley Pipeline – a 303-mile natural gas artery that would pump natural gas from the Marcellus and Utica shale fields to the southeast.

“Fast-tracking that pipeline was a significant energy win … but America’s power grid needs a lot more wins,” I noted at the time. “And fast.”

Such wins are especially necessary for South Carolina’s power grid – which was pushed to its breaking point just fifteen months ago.

CVSC’s real problem with Smith’s bill, however, is the legislation’s common sense acknowledgement that power generation in the Palmetto State must revolve around energy sources that can be consistently relied upon to generate energy all of the time. Not just when the sun is shining or the wind is blowing.

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Chief among these energy sources? Natural gas – which has been the undisputed champion in reducing carbon emissions in America in recent years by allowing utilities to retire coal-burning plants.

The numbers don’t lie: In 2022, the United States emitted an estimated 4.94 million metric tons of CO2 – down 17.9 percent from its peak of 6.02 million metric tons in 2007 – according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Smith’s bill would continue this downward trend …

Unfortunately, thanks to climate “science,” the federal government is forcing investor-owned utilities, RTOs and other power providers to dramatically scale back conventional power generation in favor of renewables – even though it is painfully clear these new energy sources are not bridging the gap fast enough.

Bottom line? Power is being taken off the grid faster than it is being added … and natural gas, the one clean energy source which has proven effective at lowering carbon emissions, continues to face withering bureaucratic resistance. As I’ve frequently pointed out, this is a braindead approach to energy policy.

“I’m not saying zero carbon isn’t a good goal – it is,” I wrote last spring. “I’m just saying it’s a terrible goal if the power runs out before you get there.”

Yet in CVSC-world – the land of rainbows and unicorns – all fossil fuels are bad. Even the ones that allow reductions in CO2 – or bring more renewables online. To them, it’s a zero-sum game.

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RELATED | DRILL BABY, DRILL

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CVSC leaders overplayed their hand on this bill, though. During the debate over siting requirements at the committee level, House assistant majority leader Jay West gave the far left exactly what it said it wanted. In reaffirming that the proposed Canadys facility would go through the state’s established siting protocol, West amended the legislation to remove an exemption for large-scale solar farms. Not surprisingly, CVSC is assailing this amendment as the imposition of “additional licensing requirements” for solar.

Really? Last time I checked what’s good for the goose was good for the gander.

As for the oft-alleged “blank check,” the only energy bill I’ve seen which includes anything resembling an open-ended authorization is S. 909. This bill contains multiple green mandates tied to solar power generation and nascent battery technology. Among its most onerous provisions? Language provided by eco-radicals which would force utilities to purchase energy from new solar developments not based on the actual cost of the power being provided – but rather the cost of its development. In other words, solar providers would be able to retroactively adjust bids to make their projects “economical” – thus obligating utilities to purchase power they don’t need at prices consumers cannot afford.

House leaders rightly refused to incorporate such costly mandates in their legislation.

Bottom line? Eco-radicals are pissed at House leaders because their bill streamlines permitting and secures the state’s energy future without kowtowing to the woke agenda. The House bill would permanently put an end to the ongoing weaponization of the permitting process – while at the same time rejecting massive green subsidies that would come directly out of the pockets of consumers.

This is why CVSC is attacking the House bill …

Next up? The truth about who is behind CVSC’s campaign … and how its efforts have absolutely nothing to do with “conservation.”

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

(Travis Bell Photography)

Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina and before that he was a bass guitarist and dive bar bouncer. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven (soon to be eight) children.

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3 comments

Destination: Humanity's Self-Immolation March 26, 2024 at 10:34 am

Natural gas makes up a third of our CO2 emissions, so regardless of whether it releases less carbon than other fossil fuels, it’s still very much a problem.

Thanks for advocating going 85 in a school zone instead of 90 though. : )

Reply
CongareeCatfish Top fan March 27, 2024 at 3:00 pm

But the other 2/3s ( in power generation) is coal, which has many more issues than just CO2 but coal only provides about 23% of our electricity. Meanwhile, natural gas provides about 40% of our electricity nationally….so it is quite substantially cleaner – not an “85 in a 90” zone.

Reply
Fill Wolks March 27, 2024 at 8:51 am

Weird how someone who has railed against Santee Cooper and Dominion for years is all in on this expensive project they want. Why no mention of actual arguments of the supposed “eco-radicals”? The concern that we are fast tracking another mega project instead of more distributed generation? That, even with this plant, there’s a need for pipeline through private property? The health concerns for the people in the area? The reduced number of public service commissioners?

Will sees natural gas, so it must be good!

Reply

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