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5 things to watch

1. Legislative Audit Council examination of DHEC. This upcoming state audit will study whether DHEC adequately notifies the public of fines and environmental hazards. It is expected to be finished next year.

2. Federal lawsuit against DHEC top officials. It may unearth details of whether the officials responded to political influence in an agency investigation of an asbestos disposal case in Lexington County.

3. Legislative action. Will the Legislature move to reverse the DHEC-approved trend of enabling South Carolina’s burial of millions of tons of out-of-state garbage? Will the Legislature sanction DHEC’s policy of allowing developers to build closer to the ocean on renourished beaches? Will there be a move to make DHEC a cabinet-level agency or break it into parts?

4. Will outside factors slow or stop a new coal-fired power plant that Santee Cooper has asked DHEC for permission to build in Florence County? Those factors could be a privately financed feasibility study on whether the utility needs to generate more energy and possible stricter federal rules on coal emissions.

5. Will DHEC become more open by making its fine and pollution data more easily available?

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