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Today we have a guest blog update on one of America’s Most Endangered Rivers® of 2014, the South Fork Edisto River in South Carolina. Legislators in South Carolina have introduced legislation that would end the exemption for large agricultural water withdrawals through state permitting. Below are the comments made by a partner of American Rivers, Doug Busbee, at the South Carolina State House rotunda during a press conference introducing the legislation.February 11th press conference | Tom Sliker
Good Morning. My name is Doug Busbee. I stand before you today representing a wide range of people from across South Carolina — from farmers, to business people, to everyday working class citizens. We have come together as a coalition called SCRiversForever.org. We believe water is a Public Trust resource. Our goal is to encourage and support sustainable economic development while respecting the tremendous value of our natural resources, South Carolina farmers, and all citizens.
Today we have some very loose surface water regulations in South Carolina that promise more water than we actually have, and would allow any agricultural entity to draw any river or stream in the state to a zero flow, regardless of downstream users. This same law is drawing large farms into South Carolina that will compete directly with our farmers for land, fertilizer, market share, and water. I understand that these giant farms will immediately enhance the bottom line of our state, but I am deeply concerned that it will ultimately undermine our South Carolina farmers who are the backbone and pillars of every community in this state.
Representative James Smith’s bill, [H.3564], is the first step in the right direction. But we must look down the road to improve the management of all of our water resources for the sake of South Carolina’s future!
The Edisto and the Salkehatchie regions are the canaries in the coal mine. We are seeing unrestrained development of giant out of state farms using both surface and groundwater. We have seen fish kills and historic lows despite not being in a declared drought situation. And even now, with recent rains, the South Edisto River at Denmark flows at half of normal.
Look around, many of the people you see here today represent generations of real farmers. They have had to adapt in order to survive and I would put their abilities against any in the nation. I beg you as leaders of agriculture to give the guidance, financing, and encouragement to our farmers for a chance to prosper first, before looking outside of our borders. And farmers, we have to be willing to change and embrace new ideas as well.Doug Busbee at Statehouse | Tom Sliker
We have two very precious resources here in South Carolina, our water and the South Carolina farmer. Both have sustained us for centuries and the loss of either one is unacceptable.
One more thing, lawmakers, policymakers, lobbyists— look around you. There are a lot of farmers, business people, and concerned citizens here today. Five years ago, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (DNR) started speaking out about the flaws in the current surface water law. If their warning had been heeded, we would not be standing here today. I beg of you to listen to the scientists you’ve hired from SC DNR and the U.S. Geological Survey who understand our water best.
There is one good thing that has come out of this struggle — it has made us realize how precious water really is and how the Lord has blessed us with it.
I would like to introduce you to Representative James Smith, whose bill starts us in the right direction. I’d also like to recognize the co-sponsors of this bill. It takes some grit to address this issue and I applaud the sponsors and would encourage other legislators to join them.
Thank you for your time.
Washington Bikes testifies today in support of the Washington State Senate transportation revenue package. The […]
The post Senate Transportation Revenue Package – A Good Start to Grow Bicycling Statewide appeared first on Washington Bikes.
As someone who lived through the worst oil spill disaster in American history, I’m going to tell you an unpleasant truth – oil spill cleanups are a myth.Ice-covered Yellowstone River near Glendive, MT a week after the oil spill | Scott Bosse
I was among the thousands of workers who were hired to clean up the 11 million gallons of North Slope crude that hemorrhaged from the Exxon Valdez when it ran aground in Alaska’s Prince William Sound on Good Friday in 1989. During my first stint on the spill cleanup, my crew of 200 workers was hired on a Friday and fired the following Monday. A USA Today crew was helicoptering out to one of the hardest hit beaches for the weekend, and Exxon wanted to show the American people that it was doing everything possible to clean up its mess.
A quarter century later, you can still find oil along that remote coastline by digging down a few inches into the gravel. Despite enlisting 10,000 cleanup workers, 1,000 boats, 100 aircraft and spending $2.1 billion over a period of four years, Exxon was able to clean up just ten percent of the spill. Most experts say the cleanup effort did more harm than good.
The cleanup tally was even worse when Exxon’s Silvertip Pipeline spewed 63,000 gallons of oil into the flood-swollen Yellowstone River by Laurel in July 2011. Despite spending $130 million on the cleanup, less than one percent of the oil was recovered.
So imagine how successful Bridger Pipeline LLC will be in cleaning up the 40,000 gallons of Bakken crude that gushed into the Yellowstone River by Glendive when its Poplar Pipeline ruptured on January 17. At the peak of the cleanup, a company spokesman told the Glendive Ranger-Review that it was recovering one teaspoon of oil every ten minutes from holes that it cut in the ice. At that pace, it would take 1,753 years to clean up the spill.
It wouldn’t be fair to blame Bridger Pipeline for its inability to clean up the spill. After all, the surface of the river was frozen solid for 20 miles below the ruptured pipeline, and a swift current was carrying the oil underneath the ice towards North Dakota. It’s doubtful that more than five percent of the oil could have been cleaned up even under optimal conditions.
But it is fair to blame Bridger Pipeline, and the federal agency that oversees pipeline safety, for not preventing the spill in the first place. When the Poplar Pipeline was last inspected in 2012, it was buried just eight feet under the bed of the Yellowstone River. That’s four feet deeper than the minimum depth required by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). A large, dynamic river like the Yellowstone can scour twice that depth in a single flood event.
So it should have come as no surprise when investigators discovered that 120 feet of the Poplar Pipeline was totally exposed following the spill. It was an accident waiting to happen. And you can bet there are scores of other ticking time bombs lurking in the 18,000 places across the country where pipelines cross under rivers, streams and lakes.
Since it is virtually impossible to clean up oil once it’s spilled into our waterways, our focus must be on spill prevention. While the energy industry will complain about the cost, we need to demand common sense safety measures like burying pipelines much deeper under rivers, constructing them with thicker steel, requiring automatic shut-off valves, mandating more frequent inspections, and dramatically increasing fines for acts of negligence. Failure to implement these measures is an invitation to more oil spills, more contaminated water supplies, more sickened people, and more fish and wildlife kills.
Better yet, we should accelerate our nation’s transition away from dirty fossil fuels and toward cleaner, safer renewables like wind and solar. For as it’s been said, when there’s a major solar energy spill, it’s called a nice day.