Newsletter: Santee Cooper, Joe Cunningham, Hill Meetings

Newsletter: Santee Cooper, Joe Cunningham, Hill Meetings

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March 11, 2019

Santee Cooper: It’s Time to Sell

The SC Small Business Chamber is supporting the sale of Santee Cooper to a private utility to eliminate debt from Santee Cooper and electric cooperative ratepayers.  Santee Cooper, a state agency, has racked up nearly $9 billion in debt, $4 billion from the failed nuclear construction project with SCE&G in Fairfield County.

Tomorrow the Senate Select Committee on Santee Cooper, charged with recommending a resolution to this financial debacle, will meet to hear from Santee Cooper.

The Small Business Chamber has clearly stated the reasons for its position on this issue.  Read opinion editorials and letters to the editor to date from the Small Business Chamber:

Charleston Post and Courier
Sell Santee Cooper for ratepayer relief 

Orangeburg Times and Democrat
Opinion: Time to sell Santee Cooper

Hilton Head Island Packet
Opinion: A million ways (per day) the SC legislature can relieve Lowcountry power ratepayers

Florence Morning News
GUEST COLUMN: Make a decision soon about Santee Cooper’s crisis

Lexington County Chronicle
Letter: Sell Santee Cooper to help ratepayers


Congressman Joe Cunningham takes on federal regulators on offshore seismic airgun blasting and drilling in the Atlantic

Last week Representative Joe Cunningham, representing South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District, challenged regulators on the issues of offshore testing and drilling for oil.

Rep. Cunningham serves on the House Committee on Natural Resources and both of its critical subcommittees that oversee oil development offshore.

On March 6th, Mr. Cunningham questioned the Acting Director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management on its role in carrying out the Administration’s agenda for opening most of the East and West Coasts to offshore drilling.  (Watch video here)

The next day, March 7th, Mr. Cunningham received both national and state media attention when he grilled an Assistant Administrator from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s fisheries division on that agency’s approval of the use of seismic airgun blasting to search for offshore oil. (Here and Here) Mr. Cunningham dramatically used an air horn to demonstrate the intense sound that seismic creates and its danger to marine life.  The video clearly shows that the federal regulator was unaware of the magnitude of the sound. (Watch video here)


Small Business Chamber goes to the Hill

The President/CEO of the Small Business Chamber, Frank Knapp, met with 8 of the 9 South Carolina Congressional DC offices and 3 federal offices over the last two weeks.

February 27

Mr. Knapp had a good meeting with SC Representative William Timmons (4th Congressional District) discussing offshore exploration and drilling for oil.  Mr. Timmons has not taken a formal position on this issue.  Mr. Knapp subsequently provided information to Mr. Timmons’ office that he requested.

Mr. Knapp met with staff in Representative Ralph Norman’s office (4th Congressional District) to also discuss offshore exploration and testing for oil.  Mr. Norman supports the administration’s agenda on this issue.  Mr. Knapp concluded his meetings with Representative Cunningham’s staff.  Numerous issues were discussed.

February 28
Mr. Knapp was part of a group meeting with the Assistant Secretary of Interior to discuss offshore exploration and drilling for oil.  The meeting, organized by the Surfrider Foundation, included representatives from national and international groups and businesses (including Billabong, Outdoor Alliance, World Surfing League and REEF USA) with interest in ocean-related recreation.

The same group also met with executive administrators of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and the White House’s Council on Environmental Quality.  Both meetings were again were about offshore exploration and drilling for oil.

March 1
Accompanied by a small contingent of South Carolina Surfrider volunteers, Mr. Knapp met with the offices of Senators Tim Scott and Lindsay Graham as well as the staff of Representatives Joe Wilson (2nd Congressional District), Tom Rice (3rd Congressional District), Joe Cunningham (1st Congressional District) and James Clyburn (6th Congressional District).

All these South Carolina Congressmen have taken a position against offshore exploration and drilling for oil in the Atlantic or at least off the SC Coast.  The one exception is Senator Graham who supports the rights of states to opt out of exploration and drilling off their respective coasts.  Given the strong opposition position of Governor McMaster, we count Senator Graham in the opposed column.

April 7
Mr. Knapp joined representatives of the Conservation Voters of SC in a meeting with Representative Cunningham’s office.  The discussion was about the need to protect the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) budget.  Economic development in South Carolina’s rural counties is made more difficult if the air, water and land is polluted.  South Carolina also has toxic Superfund Sites that need to be addressed.  The Trump Administration today released it proposed 2020 budget that would cut the EPA budget by 31 percent.

Mr. Knapp also had meetings with staff in Senator Graham and Scott’s office in which he carried the same EPA budget message.  In addition, he discussed with Senator Scott’s office the Opportunity Zones and how these tax credits might be combined with the New Market Tax Credits to be more effective in encouraging private investment in the state’s rural communities.  At this meeting Mr. Knapp also heard about and encouraged the filing of legislation to add battery storage projects to the current Solar Investment Tax Credits program.

At the meeting in Senator Graham’s office Mr. Knapp discussed the Senator’s new Roosevelt Conservation Caucus, which will advocate for  “market-based approaches” to environmental problems.  A recommendation the Caucus might support, and Mr. Knapp encouraged, is more Research and Development funding for the Department of Energy that would include renewables and battery storage.  Mr. Knapp also heard that last year Senator Graham asked the Government Accounting Office to report on U.S. housing stock.  One aspect of this report would be an analysis of current housing in such disrepair that efforts to make them more energy efficient can not be done.  Addressing this latter problem could result from such a report.


The South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce is a statewide advocacy organization founded in 2000.  With over 10,000 small business and entrepreneur supporters, it has successfully worked to make South Carolina more small business friendly in areas such as healthcare, taxation, regulation, worker training, energy/conservation, workers’ compensation and economic development.


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