January 20, 2022

After a conference committee resolved issues between the House and Senate, the free conference report on S. 525, a bill dealing with updates to the solid waste laws to include the regulation of advanced recycling, was adopted. The bill outlines that “advanced recycling” means manufacturing processes that convert post-use polymers and recovered feedstocks into basic hydrocarbon raw materials, feedstocks, chemicals, waxes and other products. The bill includes that DHEC require these companies, new to the state, prior to being issued a permit, to provide financial responsibility in the form of a surety bond for five years. This requirement will expire five years from the effective date.

The bill states that DHEC must provide a report every year to the General Assembly regarding DHEC’s analysis of the advanced recycling facility industry and its recommendation as to the industry’s record in this state or elsewhere. The report must also include, but not be limited to, the industry’s costs of clean up, environmental remediation, firefighting, ground water or surface water contamination, private property contamination, public health impacts, and displacement and relocation of affected persons, and any other reasonably foreseeable costs associated with the operation, management, or abandonment of any pyrolysis and gasification facilities.

In addition, beginning July, 2022, DHEC is required to provide regulations for the handling of outdated solar panels and batteries and the decommissioning of solar projects in excess of thirteen acres. The department must require, as part of a new application or an application pending on July 1, 2022, local approval of a site plan for a solar farm in excess of thirteen acres, that an owner, lessee, or developer of real property upon which the site is situated must submit to the department a nonbinding plan to manage and dispose of end-of-life photovoltaic modules and energy storage system batteries and decommission solar energy equipment, facilities, or devices.

The House gave third reading and sent to the Senate H. 3055, a bill that cleans up language and provides for technical changes in the law for the Department of Natural Resources. These changes are as a result of the Legislative Oversight Committee’s review of the Department. The changes include, but are not limited to, updating names of the division departments as a result of the department’s name change; updating the department’s name on enforcement officers’ badges; deleting language regarding enforcement officers requirement for bond; and updating boundary description for the Wildlife Sanctuary at Charleston Harbor by simply deleting old references to location descriptions and replacing them with GPS coordinates.

The House approved and sent the Senate H. 4815, a joint resolution suspending the statutorily mandated sweep of any unused State Health Plan health insurance claim funds to the South Carolina Retiree Health Insurance Trust Fund for Fiscal Year 2021-2022. The suspension allows the Public Employee Benefit Authority to retain these funds in the state’s employee health insurance program and continue to use them to address the increase in claims that PEBA is

experiencing following the delays in scheduling elective surgeries caused by COVID-19 shutdowns. The amount that would be swept is $92 million. The OPEB trust fund was created in 2008 and current has a balance of $1 billion.