Recent editorials from South Carolina newspapers:
The Herald of Rock Hill on the Catawba River water dispute:
Using Duke Energy's comprehensive relicensing agreement as a basis for a settlement of the dispute over a North Carolina plan to divert water from the Catawba River looks promising. But any agreement should address the key issue in the dispute: whether North Carolina has a right to transfer water from the Catawba out of the river basin for use in another basin.
South Carolina sued North Carolina in June 2007 after North Carolina officials announced a plan to divert tens of millions of gallons of water daily from the Catawba to the cities of Concord and Kannapolis. The water was to be used to aid development in the two cities, which are outside the Catawba's basin.
The lawsuit was supported not only by South Carolina cities and counties that rely on water from the Catawba but also by their North Carolina counterparts who are downstream from the point where water would have been withdrawn. ...
The latest proposal involves an agreement hammered out by Duke Energy and both Carolinas regarding Duke's operation of 13 hydroelectric plants on the river. It includes standards for recreational and environmental water flows, as well as assurances of "Low Inflow Protocol" in times of drought.
In addition, both states, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources and other municipal, business, environmental and homeowner groups participated in developing the agreement. So it represents a wide range of interests among those who use and rely on the Catawba. ...
The question at the heart of this dispute is whether upstream users should be allowed to transfer water from the Catawba outside of the natural river basin for use elsewhere in the state. We think South Carolina and any downstream users should firmly oppose any interbasin transfer of water.
If the Duke relicensing agreement doesn't address that issue, state officials need to resolve it before signing off on a settlement of this case. If the two states can't resolve that issue, it might be preferable to allow the Supreme Court to decide. ...
Herald-Journal of Spartanburg on relieving the state of nuclear waste:
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission took a major step forward in the path toward relieving South Carolina of some of its nuclear waste burden recently. The commission announced that the U.S. Energy Department had prepared adequate safety programs for a plant designed to convert plutonium from dismantled nuclear bombs into fuel for nuclear reactors.
Coming at a time when the administration of President Barack Obama is expending massive energy and political clout to kill the planned waste repository at Yucca Mountain, the good news was sorely needed.
According to a story in The Augusta Chronicle, the commission, tasked with overseeing licensing for the mixed oxide fuel facility currently being built at the Savannah River Site, said environmental protection studies, safety features related to the plant's manufacturing of fuel, and security plans to protect the waste from theft were all up to its standards.
According to the commission's report, dozens of potential accident scenarios were also evaluated, including fires, leaks, explosions, acid spills, tornadoes and earthquakes. Radiation hazards from potential explosions were also calculated in a wide radius and deemed acceptable. ...
That does not mean the plant is now licensed. It will have to finish construction, then the commission will have to verify that the actual facility is as safe as the plans said it would be.
And there will likely be a slew of lawsuits filed between now and 2016, when the plant is scheduled to be up and running, by environmental extremists who support the use of electrical power but not its generation, and despise both nuclear waste and any reasonable plans for alleviating the problem of nuclear waste. ...
It is crucial that supporters of the mixed oxide fuel facility keep up the pressure to make this project happen, just as it is crucial that the supporters of Yucca Mountain keep up the pressure to make that project happen. ...
The Post and Courier of Charleston on misguided PACT legislation:
Washington should do all it reasonably can to protect our armed forces personnel from danger. But that shouldn't include depriving combat troops of tobacco-product shipments.
Unfortunately, that's exactly what military authorities are now doing due to strict new federal limitations on mailings of cigarettes, cigars and chewing tobacco to America's military members. That's a misguided result of the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking Act legislation signed into law by President Barack Obama in March. ...
House Armed Services Committee member Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., a former Marine captain who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, has introduced a bill aimed at removing that galling restriction for front-line personnel. His office stressed that his legislation is designed for "troops stationed at combat outposts who don't have the luxury of stepping off the battlefield to buy a pack of cigarettes."
The Pentagon should continue to discourage smoking and chewing tobacco, and to offer assistance to troops who want to quit. But the brave Americans who decided to enlist in our all-volunteer armed forces ultimately should be allowed to make their own tobacco-use decisions. And if they decide they want to relieve some of the incredible stress they face by using tobacco, that should be their call.
Depriving our military men and women risking their lives in combat zones of tobacco shipments from home isn't just absurd and insulting.