South Carolina

SOUTH CAROLINA

South Carolina is home to just over 5 million people. 40th in size among the states, it covers just over 30 thousand square miles of land and boasts a 187-mile ocean shoreline consisting of the Grand Strand, an unbroken beach stretching from the North Carolina border southward for more than 100 miles before giving way to the tidal and freshwater marshes of the Sea Islands, which extend into Georgia. Before colonization, South Carolina was home to Native American tribes such as the Catawba, Chicora, PeeDee, Creek and Cusobo. English colonizers established a large settlement that would become North and South Carolina in 1670, and began bringing captured peoples from Africa to labor on plantations. Boone Hall, the oldest plantation in the country, can be found in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina.

Sea level rise, fueled by warming waters, poses an urgent threat to South Carolina’s coastal ecosystems, economy (which is primarily agricultural and tourism), as well as the lives of almost 230 thousand people who live in risk of coastal flooding — a number expected to increase by over 50 thousand within thirty years. Cities like Charleston are already seeing frequent floods during high tide. As severe storms and hurricanes grow more frequent and more intense, with 29 federally declared disasters between 1954-2020 for water related incidents alone, the general sea level rise compounds the threat of a storm surge. By 2050, a 100-year flood will become nine times more likely, or an approximately 1-in-11-year event. A changing climate is also likely to change the composition of South Carolina’s forests, which cover two-thirds of the state.

Nuclear energy is the leading source of electricity generation in South Carolina. By 2018, the state ranked third in the nation for both generating capacity and annual generation. South Carolina has, however, no petroleum, coal or gas reserves or production. All their fossil fuels come from outside the state, primarily by rail or by pipeline. Coal still accounts for about one-fifth of the state’s electricity generation – down by half from a decade ago; natural gas slightly exceeds one-fifth surpassing coal for the first time in 2018. South Carolina’s primary renewables supply the rest (about 6%), including hydropower facilities, biomass-fueled power plants that use wood waste or landfill gas, and solar energy.The state’s even has an anaerobic digester, which came online in 2011, generating power from methane gas captured at a hog farm and from another that uses poultry waste in 2013. Generating more electricity than it consumes South Carolina pumps its surplus across the regional grid to other states.

While South Carolina does not have a statewide climate adaptation plan, the state has passed legislation aimed at adaptation efforts. For example, the 2018 update to the South Carolina Hazard Mitigation Plan, without once mentioning climate change, analyzes risks affecting the state and identifies actions to mitigate their impact. Earlier, in 2014, South Carolina passed a Voluntary Renewables Portfolio Standard bill for the state to reach 2% renewable energy by 2021. The state has not updated that standard to reflect either the urgency of the climate crisis or the growth of renewables’ role in its energy mix.

CURRENT NEWS

Where Seas Are Rising At Alarming Speed

By Chris Mooney, Brady Dennis, Kevin Crowe and John Muyskens 04/29/24
One of the most rapid sea level surges on Earth is besieging the American South, forcing a reckoning for coastal communities across eight U.S. states, a Washington Post analysis has found.
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Heavy Rain and Rising Sea Levels Are Sending Sewage Into Some Charleston Streets and Ponds

By Daniel Shailer 04/07/24
When rain comes down in some parts of Charleston, S.C., sewage comes up. In the neighborhood of West Ashley, storms trigger waste overflows so often into a pond near Nell Postell’s home that she has…
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How the climate of eastern South Carolina has changed over time

By Jenna Warner 02/28/24
The climate on Earth naturally changes throughout time, however since the late 1800s, the climate has been changing little by little annually at a greater rate than natural climate drivers can influence.
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How South Carolina’s Lowcountry is dealing with climate change

By Adam Wren 02/24/24
A few hundred yards from the “VOTE HERE” signs at Charleston 1 and 2 precincts at the Hazel Parker Playground here, the indisputable effects of climate change are not contained in some scientific paper, but…
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There’s a lot going on today, between CPAC and the South Carolina GOP primary

By Sam Stein 02/24/24
Today is, for lack of a more sophisticated term, a big day in politics, one that could end up providing a real affirmation about the state of the Republican Party (if it was needed). Miles…
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South Carolina Welcomes Multibillion Dollar Electric Vehicle Projects, Even Though Many Echo Trump’s Harsh EV Critiques

By Marianne Lavelle 02/24/24
On their way to a groundbreaking last week for a massive new electric vehicle plant, designed for the rebirth of an iconic American brand, guests first had to walk past a phalanx of vintage Scout…
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South Carolina leads the region in proactive climate planning

02/09/24
The changing climate presents myriad problems to solve, affecting people, wildlife, natural systems, and our economies. The release of the Fifth National Climate Assessment at the end of 2023 emphasized the urgent need to address…
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How stronger storms and hotter weather could impact South Carolina’s oysters

By Jonah Chester 02/05/24
When runoff from a Dec. 17, 2023, nor'easter forced the closure of several shellfish harvesting beds near Charleston, the timing couldn't have been worse. The stretch between Christmas and New Year's is one the most…
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South Carolina faces a frigid weekend. Here’s what to expect as temperatures plummet.

By Maddy Quon 01/18/24
This weekend, temperatures along the coast will reach highs of just 42 degrees, and hit lows ranging from 21 to 26 degrees. Inland it will be colder. Greenville will only reach 35 degrees on Jan.…
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New research model could offer glimpse into Charleston’s flooded future

By Jonah Chester 12/15/23
Charleston is going to look a lot different in 2050. A booming population and rising sea levels will reshape the city. One new resource could offer a way for local leaders to glimpse the future.
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‘A Beautiful Place That Has a Dragon’: Where Hurricane Risk Meets Booming Growth

By Aatish Bhatia 11/19/23
The hurricanes keep coming, and the people, too: The fastest-growing places along the Atlantic coast this century are also among the most hurricane-prone. Between 2016 and 2022, the five hurricanes that hit the Carolinas cost…
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Residents of four states will get more information about flood risk to their homes

By Rebecca Hersher 09/08/23
Millions of homes and apartments in the United States are at risk for expensive and dangerous flooding. But, in many states, when you purchase a home or sign a lease, you receive virtually no information…
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PLANS TO ACCELERATE RENEWABLES

South Carolina Poised to Transform Former Coal-Fired Plant Into a Gas Utility as Public Service Commission Approves Conversion – Inside Climate News

03/03/24
Halfway towards the Atlantic Ocean, South Carolina’s Edisto River flows through the tiny neighborhood of Canadys and past a shell of a retired coal-fired power station. This month that long-shuttered power plant was resurrected as…

Palmetto Energy Solutions Enters South Carolina’s Residential Solar Market And Expands into the EV Charging Market

02/12/24
Palmetto Energy Solutions, a Columbia-based solar energy company, is making significant growth in South Carolina's residential solar and electric vehicle charging market.

SC power grid nearing ‘crisis point’ as researchers develop plans for clean energy solutions

12/21/23
As South Carolina decommissions coal- and gas-fired power plants, the state will need to find new ways to secure its vulnerable electric grid.

South Carolina’s Mini-Grant Program for Energy Demonstration Projects Finds Major Success

12/11/23
Thoughtful, targeted innovation and deployment of emerging energy technologies are key to unlocking a promising clean energy future. To support this effort, the South Carolina Energy Office’s (SCEO) competitive Mini-Grant Program supports high-impact demonstration projects…

State and Community Energy Programs Project Map – South Carolina

11/30/23
The South Carolina Energy Office offers several loan and grant programs to help deploy energy efficiency, renewable energy, and clean transportation projects.

South Carolina businesses benefit from $266M in federal clean energy funding

09/01/23
South Carolina businesses are benefiting from $266 million in loans and grants being awarded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to agriculture producers and rural small businesses to make investments in renewable energy and energy…

Charleston Green Plan

04/28/20
A roadmap to sustainability.

South Carolina Action State Energy Plan

04/28/20
The South Carolina State Energy Plan (State Energy Plan) is a comprehensive blueprint for a reliable, resilient, clean, and affordable energy system for South Carolina residents and businesses. Specifically, the State Energy Plan is designed…

KEY RESOURCES

South Carolina State Profile and Energy Estimates

10/26/21
South Carolina is located on the U.S. East Coast halfway between New York City and Miami. Although the state does not have any economically recoverable fossil fuel reserves, it does have renewable resources. South Carolina's…

Energy State Bill Tracking Database

09/10/21
The searchable Energy Storage Legislation Database displays information in interactive maps and charts, tracking state activity from 2017 to the present.

The First National Flood Risk Assessment

10/06/20
The First Street Foundation Flood Model represents the culmination of decades of research and development made possible by building upon existing knowledge and frameworks regularly referenced in the identification of flood risk.

The Impacts of Climate Change and the Trump Administration’s Anti-Environmental Agenda in South Carolina

09/19/20
Between 2017 and 2019, South Carolina experienced four tropical cyclones, five severe storms, one winter storm, and one freeze. The damages of each event led to losses of at least $1 billion.

State-by-State: Climate Change in South Carolina

08/06/20
South Carolina is vulnerable to sea level rise, flooding, coastal storms and increasing temperatures – all which threaten the state’s agriculture and energy industries as well as human health

Solar Soars In South Carolina With Energy Freedom Act

04/28/20
South Carolina’s new “Energy Freedom Act” is aptly titled. Signed into law in May following unanimous votes in the South Carolina House and Senate, the mandate commands the state’s Public Service Commission (PSC) to give…

Discussion of South Carolina Act 236: Version 2.0

04/28/20
Act 236 (Distributed Energy Resources Program Act): legislation passed in 2014, meant to address renewable energy development in South Carolina. The legislation’s three sections address third- party leasing, net energy metering, and utility cost recovery…

Public Energy Enemy No. 1

04/28/20
Why Duke, America’s Biggest Electric Utility, Is Also the Worst for the Environment.

Southern Environmental Law Center’s Statement in Response to South Carolina Unanimously Passing Solar Legislation

04/28/20
The South Carolina State Senate and House have unanimously passed the Energy Freedom Act, opening the door for more free-market competition in the energy sector and expanded access to solar across the state. The bill…

Final Report of the South Carolina Clean Energy Industry Manufacturing Market Development Advisory Commission

04/28/20
With rapid advancements in clean energy technology, falling prices for most renewable energy sources, and an evolving global landscape for the production of clean energy products, the current market for clean energy manufacturing is in…

South Carolina’s leaders are honing in on a plan to fight climate change

04/28/20
The 658-page report was published by the South Carolina Floodwater Commission, tasked with finding a solution to the state's flooding problems after Hurricane Florence.

MORE NEWS

Lowcountry environmentalists say renewed Paris Climate Agreement creates change at home

By Rachel Ellis   01/23/21  
The Lowcountry is no stranger to issues like rising seas levels, hurricanes and flooding. Environmental activists are hopeful help could be on the way under a new presidential administration. Some groups believe the renewed Paris…
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Dominion energy acquires solar energy project in hardin county from invenergy

01/22/21  
Dominion Energy (NYSE: D) announced this week that one of its subsidiaries has acquired the 150-megawatt (AC) Hardin solar generating facility, which recently entered service in Hardin County, Ohio, from Chicago-based Invenergy.
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South Carolina directs Dominion to model early coal fleet retirement

By Lulia Gheorghiu   01/05/21  
South Carolina regulators published a final order on Dec. 23 rejecting Dominion Energy South Carolina's proposed 2020 Integrated Resource Plan, directing the utility to remodel its analysis and include more short-term projections.
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As mold grows in the aftermath of hurricanes, more North Carolina asthma patients suffer

By Lynn Bonner   10/23/20  
Pamlico County, wedged between its namesake sound and the mouth of the Neuse River, is surrounded by water on three sides and is a target for hurricanes that sweep up the North Carolina coast. In…
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EcoRight: Conservative lawmakers see climate impacts at Upstate S.C. “field trip”

By Price Atkinson   10/22/20  
A beautiful fall morning greeted us upon arrival at the South Carolina Botanical Garden on the campus of Clemson University last Friday. I pulled into the back parking lot around 10:15 am, excited to finally meet of our good…
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A flesh-eating bacteria lurking in waterways is killing people in the Carolinas

By Sammy Fretwell, Ali Raj, Sofia Moutinho   10/22/20  
As Billy Bailey picked through the crabs he caught on Big Bay Creek, trying to determine which to keep and which to throw back, one of them clamped down on his hand, causing him to…
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What’s Vibrio? Cases of deadly, flesh-eating bacteria up significantly in the US due to climate change: Study

By Mihika Basu   10/22/20  
The cases of deadly, flesh-eating bacteria called Vibrio have increased significantly in some parts of the US and, according to scientists, climate change is the culprit. In particular, rising temperatures and sea levels have led…
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To Tell the Story of Climate Change, We Went Beyond the Beach. Here’s How We Did It

By Dan Barkin   10/20/20  
Much of the national reporting on climate change has focused on warming oceans, rising sea levels and the impact on the coast and beaches. But the effects of climate change go beyond the beach, and…
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Hurricanes repeatedly devastate this SC town, leaving a stinking threat behind: Mold

By Sammy Fretwell   10/20/20  
Almost every time Gwen Felton opened the door to her father’s mobile home, a blast of stinking, moldy air smacked her in the face. Mold had spread across the floors, crept up the walls and…
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Coastal flooding continues to increase in South Carolina

By Danielle Miller   10/19/20  
King tide floods affected many locations along the East Coast this weekend, including Charleston. This type of flooding, often called sunny day flooding, occurs during the highest astronomical tides of the year. Dr. Kirstin Dow,…
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Climate change is contributing to health problems in Sellers, South Carolina

By Joshua Boucher   10/18/20  
After floods and multiple hurricanes, homes in Sellers, South Carolina are plagued with mold. This mold is causing health problems for Sellers residents.
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Deadly bacteria is growing around South Carolina with climate change’s help

By Joshua Boucher   10/18/20  
Scientists at the University of South Carolina explain how climate change is helping vibrio bacteria spread and become more deadly in South Carolina.
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“Nancy Mace denies climate change.”

By Tom Kertscher   10/16/20  
The re-election campaign of U.S. Rep. Joe Cunningham, D-S.C., created a website for attacking his opponent, Republican state Rep. Nancy Mace."Nancy Mace denies climate change" is one of Cunningham’s claims on MaceFacts.com.
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New South Carolina Law Creates Resilience Office to Address Flooding

By Michelle Liu   10/15/20  
After five years filled with unprecedented flooding, South Carolina has now established an office to marshal the state’s efforts in stemming floodwaters and coordinating recovery and relief efforts. Governor Henry McMaster held a ceremonial signing…
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Study links fracking to airborne radioactive particles

By Dan Haugen   10/14/20  
A new study by Harvard scientists finds a significant increase in airborne radioactive particles downwind of fracking sites, with some of the biggest increases found in West Virginia.
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Growing citrus in the Midlands with Climate Change

By Alex Calamia   10/13/20  
Citrus were once a fruit that didn't have a chance in the Midlands of South Carolina, but many gardeners are having luck in recent years. Temperatures are trending warmer across the Midlands, and across the…
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Duke Energy to Expand Electric Vehicle Charging in South Carolina

10/09/20  
As new electric vehicles enter the market and strong sales growth continues nationwide, the Public Service Commission of South Carolina ) has approved two Duke Energy electric transportation pilot programs that will allow South Carolina…
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First-of-a-kind utility plan could transform Southeast grid

By Kristi E. Swartz   10/07/20  
A group of major electricity providers is forging ahead with plans for a Southeast Energy Exchange Market that could clear the way for more renewable resources to enter the region's power grid. ulleo/Pixabay (Nuclear); Chauncey…
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Piedmont Natural Gas to offer renewable natural gas through Nashville fueling station

By Jason wheatley   09/29/20  
Piedmont Natural Gas today announced that renewable natural gas (RNG) is now available at its compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling station in Nashville, Tenn. Renewable natural gas is pipeline-quality biomethane produced from biomass that is…
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Trump’s offshore energy ban includes east coast wind farms

By Jennifer A. Dluohy   09/29/20  
President Donald Trump’s decision to rule out energy development along the coasts of Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas will bar not just offshore oil and gas drilling -- but coastal wind farms too. The broad…
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Lawmakers to study changes to SC’s power industry

By Andrew Brown   09/28/20  
South Carolina lawmakers have created a committee to research whether to overhaul the state’s electric utility industry.
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SC tourism tax dollars can be used to fight climate change flooding after bill passes

By Emily Bohatch and Katherine Kokal   09/27/20  
Coastal South Carolina leaders will likely have a new revenue stream for fighting flooding and sea-level rise caused by climate change thanks to a bill passed by the state legislature this week.
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Hurricanes near U.S. coast forecast to worsen and multiply due to global warming

By Tristram Korten   09/27/20  
The 2020 hurricane season may be best remembered as the one that spawned so many storms that forecasters ran out of names and had to resort to Greek letters. But it is notable for another…
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Fierce rainstorm strikes Charleston, a reminder of how climate change has amped up weather

By Tony Bartelme   09/25/20  
The storm came from the southwest, loaded with moisture from the Gulf of Mexico. Gray clouds moved in with little warning, drizzling at first. Then just before noon Friday the skies opened up, unleashing a…
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Beaufort Co. ranks No. 1 in US for climate change risks. It’s not just sea level rise

By Katherine Kokal   09/23/20  
Climate change in Beaufort County in the next 40 years won’t just mean hotter summers. It will mean between 5% and 10% of all property will be below water at high tide. We will have…
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South Carolina utility commission overhauled three years after nuclear project fiasco

By Sammy Fretwell And Joseph Bustos   09/23/20  
The S.C. Legislature elected four new members for the Public Service Commission on Wednesday in a state where a nuclear construction fiasco, high monthly power bills and water rate increases have left customers frustrated with…
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Scientists Working to Understand Sinking Land in Charleston, South Carolina

By Jan Wesner Childs   09/23/20  
Images of water flowing through the streets and rising over sidewalks in Charleston, South Carolina, are becoming increasingly more common.The city is no stranger to what's known as sunny-day flooding, which happens during high tides…
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Charleston aims to force fossil fuel companies to pay $2bn to combat climate crisis

By Oliver Milman   09/20/20  
South Carolina city sues large oil firms, claiming they concealed knowledge that their product would cause damage to coastal cities around the world
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Charleston sues 24 fossil fuel companies, seeks money for climate change damages

By Emily Bohatch   09/09/20  
Charleston officials filed a lawsuit Wednesday against 24 fossil fuel companies, claiming that because they contributed to climate change — and misled the public about the danger its products posed to the environment —they should…
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Cities With the Highest Flood Risk in Every State

By Andrew Lisa   08/23/20  
Floods accounted for three of the 14 natural disasters that caused at least $1 billion in damage in the United States in 2019. In total, flooding impacted 14 million Americans last year and put another…
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Our View: We would be wise to address climate change in pandemic response

05/27/20  
South Carolina joined the world in halting much of its economy for the past two months to slow infections from the coronavirus pandemic. The unprecedented shutdowns will likely lead to record declines in air pollution…
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RISING WATERS Forget about climate change. The real story is climate speed.

By Tony Bartelme Tbartelme   05/20/20  
Set aside the notion of climate change. The climate has always changed. The real story is about speed. The pace of change. From rain bombs to higher sea levels, the impacts are coming faster. This…
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Sea rise, floods to dramatically change SC coast

By Bo Petersen Bopet   05/20/20  
The outer barrier islands in the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge already are getting overrun by tides. The sand needed to create new islands and beaches has been blocked by lake dams, coastal groins and…
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Duke Energy, City of Charlotte team up on solar power project in North Carolina

05/14/20  
The 35-megawatt (MW) solar facility will be constructed in Iredell County. Under a 20-year power purchase agreement, Duke Energy will secure zero carbon power to partially offset the city of Charlotte’s energy demand.
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Fortress Charleston: Will Walling Off the City Hold Back the Waters?

By Gilbert M Gaul   05/05/20  
The city is limned by its harbor and three rivers. It leaks at every bend and curve, filling streets, pooling on critical evacuation routes, disrupting business, and rushing into homes in storms. Those million-dollar antebellum…
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Charleston County, College of Charleston and South Carolina Aquarium Sign Memorandum of Understanding to Create the Center of Resilience Excellence South Carolina (CORE SC)

05/02/20  
“Issues of resilience threaten us all, from people and property to wildlife and wild places,” said Jonathan Zucker, Aquarium Board Chair. “We feel a special obligation to make sure that everyone is informed about what…
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The Impacts of Climate Change and the Trump Administration’s Anti-Environmental Agenda in South Carolina

05/01/20  
Just in the past three years, the Trump administration has attempted to roll back at least 95 environmental rules and regulations to the detriment of the environment and Americans’ public health. Moreover, the administration refuses…
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Charleston County, CofC, and SC Aquarium create CORE SC, collaborate with NASA

By Chase Laudenslager   04/29/20  
The organization was developed as a result of “the team’s recent work with NASA” and enables the founding partners to “develop the Center while expanding their relationship with NASA and other organizations.”
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Editorial: Environmental law must recognize climate change

04/02/20  
What Lowcountry residents should be most concerned about in proposed changes to the National Environmental Protection Act is the effort to undo an Obama-era rule that requires environmental impact reports to look at flood risks.
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Opinion: South Carolina conservatives must confront reality of climate change

By Rep. Gary Clary   03/08/20  
I field a lot of questions from voters who call or write with concerns about the effects of climate change. Some of them own property or have other investments along the coast and are dealing…
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How Charleston, South Carolina, Is Working To Save itself From Climate Change

By Steve Bailey   02/12/20  
For the last hundred years, the sea level in Charleston Harbor has risen about an inch every decade. Now it's rising about an inch every two years. Charlestonians, no matter their political persuasion, know climate change…
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South Carolina favours 3 options for state utility, incl sale to NextEra

By Tsvetomira Tsanova   02/12/20  
February 12 (Renewables Now) - South Carolina lawmakers are reviewing three proposals for the future of debt-laden utility Santee Cooper, including an acquisition proposal by NextEra Energy Inc (NYSE:NEE)
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South Carolina Has No Overall Plan to Fight Climate Change

By Sammy Fretwell   02/10/20  
Four Hurricanes And A Major Flood In Five Years Have Swamped South Carolina, Killing More Than 30 People And Causing Billions Of Dollars In Property Damage.
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SC’s $157 million ‘action plan’ criticized for failing to acknowledge climate change, sea-level rise

By Kaitlin Stansell   02/06/20  
South Carolina’s Department of Administration has submitted a 123-page proposal to the federal government, which outlines how $157 million will be used to prepare 17 counties for natural disasters. However, some stakeholders have called the…
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Caught Off Guard: South struggles with climate change

By James Bruggers   01/28/20  
Like hundreds of other cities, Louisville, Kentucky, is searching for a path to address climate change. Mayor Greg Fischer has declared a climate emergency, proposed a climate action plan and set a goal of reducing…
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As heat rises, SC watches quietly. Will state suffer from lack of climate action?

By Sammy Fretwell   01/26/20  
After keeping a climate study secret for nearly two years, South Carolina’s wildlife agency publicly released the report in the spring of 2013 amid criticism that it had bottled up the information for political reasons.
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South Carolina raises rates Dominion must pay to solar providers, reversing earlier decision

By Catherene Morehouse   01/07/20  
The vote reverses a 6-1 decision reached in November that would have had Dominion pay solar providers $21.43/MWh over 10-year contracts. Dominion will now pay between $27.51/MWh and $32.52/MWh, depending on the season and peak…
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Commentary: With Energy Freedom Act, South Carolina Takes Steps Toward Resilience

By Shelley Robbins   07/25/19  
Now more than ever, renewable and resilient energy systems are key to ensuring residents have access to reliable energy infrastructure in the event of a power outage. Hurricane season is here, and South Carolina is no…
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New South Carolina law keeps solar working for Palmetto State

05/20/19  
Today, South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster signed a law removing the brakes on South Carolina’s growing solar industry. The Energy Freedom Act, which unanimously passed both the state House and Senate, removes artificial caps on…
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