Thanks to what’s going on in Washington, precious places from our South Carolina coast to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge are suddenly being opened up for oil drilling. Our country is now the only nation that isn’t standing behind the Paris Climate Accord. And the Clean Power Plan and other national efforts to protect American families from the health and climate effects of burning fossil fuels are under attack.
Clearly, this is not the time to leave the safety and prosperity of our people and our planet to the inside-the-Beltway crowd. That’s why South Carolinians are converging on the State House on Tuesday to ask our state leaders to act in the best interests of the people of the Palmetto State.
With the spectacular failure of the multi-billion-dollar V.C. Summer nuclear construction project, we have an opportunity to rethink how we power our lives and our economy. We must move toward a clean-energy future that will curb climate change while benefiting all people — rich and poor, black and white, urban and rural.
Doing clean energy right means good local jobs, sustainable economic development, controllable energy costs and lower medical expenses because of less air pollution. We plan to tell legislators that when it comes to energy, we want what is right, and what is fair — not just for ourselves, but for everyone in our state.
We want to boost energy-efficiency programs and expand solar energy in our sunny state, while ensuring all South Carolinians can share the benefits. We want to make sure that the burden of paying for mistakes like the Summer plant or potentially harmful gas pipelines don’t fall unfairly on rate-paying families, churches, schools and small businesses. In short, we want policies that put the people of South Carolina first.
So we support our lawmakers when they pass forward-looking legislation like last session’s Distributed Resources Energy Program Act, which opened the door to expanding South Carolina’s renewable-energy portfolio. We recognize the efforts of companies such as Duke Energy, which is planning two community solar gardens and waiving sign-up fees for low-income families who can pay their monthly bills but can’t quite manage $250 up front. We applaud companies such as Boeing, which powers its North Charleston factory with renewable energy, creating local jobs without producing a lot of local pollution or global greenhouse gas emissions.
Across South Carolina, we are already getting a preview of the more severe, more frequent extreme weather events that scientists say we can expect if we don’t curb pollution that contributes to climate change. We suffered through Hurricane Irma last year, Hurricane Matthew the year before that and thousand-year floods the year before that. We don’t wish any more violent weather on ourselves, or anyone else.
What we wish for is wisdom for our leaders in Columbia. This session, as they consider a variety of energy-related bills, may they see beyond entrenched, outdated, inequitable ways of doing things, and instead make wise decisions that lead to a cleaner, healthier, more prosperous state in which all our citizens have the opportunity to thrive.
The Rev. Woodberry is pastor of Kingdom Living Temple in Florence, which helped organize the Feb. 13 legislative day in Columbia; contact him at email@example.com.