Not only do some utilities want to continue fouling our air and contaminating our bodies with pollution from coal plants, some also want to use their power plants to drain our rivers dry. See this article from the State:
Logjam is dooming water withdrawal bill
By SAMMY FRETWELL
An impasse between big business and conservation groups has all but killed a plan to protect rivers and drinking water across South Carolina.
Without a law to oversee water withdrawals:
n South Carolina’s drinking water plants and industries could be vulnerable if new companies divert water upstream.
• The Palmetto State will have a harder time striking deals with Georgia and North Carolina for the use of common rivers, including the Savannah and Catawba, negotiators say.
The bill, which has bogged down in the Legislature, would, for the first time, require permits — and state oversight — for new or expanding industries that want to draw at least 3 million gallons per month from a river.
Catawba Riverkeeper David Merryman said it’s a shame the Legislature could not reach an agreement.
“It is important for everyone to know who is sticking a straw in the river,” said Merryman, whose river today has been named the nation’s most endangered. “You can’t have withdrawals that are unchecked.”
Donna Lisenby, founder of Waterkeepers Carolina, said South Carolina’s failure to pass a bill could set back efforts to launch a permitting program in North Carolina that would protect users downstream in the Palmetto State. Tarheel legislators were looking to South Carolina for direction, she said.
While the bill is on the Senate’s calendar in South Carolina, it has been contested — which severely damages the possibility of passage this year, said its sponsor, Sen. Wes Hayes, R-York. The Senate would have to vote on the bill by May 1 so the House could debate it.
“I’m going to keep fighting,” Hayes said. “We have got to get a handle on our surface water withdrawals or you’re going to have battles like out West, where you don’t have enough.”
Led by Duke Energy Inc., industries fought strict versions of the bill that would keep companies from drawing rivers to low levels. Industry favored versions of the bill that would allow withdrawals below what state scientists said was good for fish and wildlife.
Power companies, who say the federal government already regulates their dams, use the majority of surface water in South Carolina. Most are proposing new power plants in the state.
Duke, for instance, plans a nuclear plant near Gaffney that will need more than 35 million gallons each day from the Broad River basin. Duke already consumes about 60 million gallons per day for existing power stations in the Upstate.
Santee Cooper, which takes about 58 million gallons per day for its existing plants, wants to consume at least 9 million gallons more each day for a proposed coal-fired power plant on the Great Pee Dee River. SCE&G could not provide comparable statistics this week.
Major environmental groups, once the permitting bill’s staunchest supporters, last week vowed to fight the legislation in the Senate because they said the latest versions don’t do enough to protect the public and wildlife.