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Defining “wetland” proves elusive


April 04, 2018   By Jay Hudson in Environmental Stewardship

What is or is not a wetland continues to be debated and litigated.

Defining “wetland” proves elusive

In 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued a rule to redefine “waters of the United States” that could include dry stream beds and perhaps ditches that contain water and flow into other water bodies. I wrote a blog on this a few years back.

What was at question in 2015 was what was a considered a “water of the U.S.” and what was not. At the turn of the 20 th century, a water of the U.S. was clear: It was generally considered lakes, rivers and territorial seas---water bodies that contain water most if not all of the time. The definition began to get murky when the government began to regulate swampy areas otherwise known as wetlands in the 1970s. Don’t get me wrong. Wetlands are an indispensable part of our ecosystem. Wetlands store runoff and provide important habitat for unique species. Swampy wetland areas deserve protection as... Continue Reading >>

GOFER in 2017: 1 million gallons of used oil and counting


December 13, 2017   By Susan Jackson in Environmental Stewardship

Step right up with used motor oil for proper disposal. Beginning in 1991, this was Santee Cooper’s first used oil collection facility, located in Moncks Corner on Rembert Dennis Boulevard just north of the entrance to the utility’s corporate headquarters at 1 Riverwood Drive.

The Santee Cooper Give Oil for Energy Recovery (GOFER) program accepts used motor oil from do-it-yourself (DIY) oil changers.

Besides DIYers, the GOFER program accepts oil from commercial and industrial customers. These collections are made statewide and not solely for Santee Cooper power or water customers.   The mission of the program is to provide cost-effective used oil recycling options. This significantly reduces the chance of polluting our soil, ditches and waterways with used oil.

The GOFER program was initiated in 1990 as an Earth Day pollution-prevention program in Berkeley and Georgetown counties. The GOFER program began in earnest in 1991 with one truck---and it has grown to four vacuum trucks with four drivers.

In 2016, 1.3 million gallons of used oil were collected and either recycled or burned as fuel at Santee Cooper’s Winyah Generating Station near Georgetown. In 2017, the program has already collected and... Continue Reading >>

From Power Plant to Peanut Production


September 06, 2017   By Susan Jackson in Environmental Stewardship

Gypsum produced at a Santee Cooper generating station is applied to peanut plants at a farm in Orangeburg County.

Synthetic gypsum is formed when fossil-fueled power plants use their flue-gas desulfurization (FGD) systems to remove sulfur dioxide from the stack gases.

Using a process referred to as “scrubbing,” stack gases are fed through calcium carbonate (i.e. limestone) to eliminate impurities and environmental concerns. When the sulfur dioxide is removed, synthetic gypsum is formed.

The majority of the synthetic gypsum at Santee Cooper’s Cross Generating Station was dewatered and trucked to a wallboard facility where it is used to make drywall. However, some of the synthetic gypsum wasn’t able to be dewatered so it had been sent to a lined wastewater pond.

In 2016, Santee Cooper began excavating this quality gypsum from the pond and stacking it in large stockpiles. After allowing it to dry naturally and extensive testing, it was decided that this gypsum could be used for agriculture. After receiving approval from the S.C.... Continue Reading >>

Lowering carbon emissions: a proposal


July 19, 2017   By Jay Hudson in Environmental Stewardship

Santee Cooper’s Cross Generating in Berkeley County is the state-owned utility’s largest power plant and an important source of electricity for its customers and those served by electric cooperatives.

The administration’s regulatory reform agenda  includes a rework of the Clean Power Plan, the Obama administration’s proposal to lower carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions at existing coal-fired power plants. The rule is currently being revised and will be published in the Federal Register in the coming months. 

One item that will likely be included is lowering CO2 emissions at existing plants by making them more efficient. The process is simple. The creation of CO2 is the result of burning fuel. Carbon-based coal burned in the presence of excess oxygen creates carbon dioxide. If the same amount of power can be produced while burning less fuel, less CO2 will be produced. 

The issue in the past has been when efficiency projects are proposed, they usually trigger what the Clean Air Act terms “New Source Review” or NSR. This is a lengthy state and federal permitting process where, in order to make a coal-fired unit more... Continue Reading >>

Brewing Up New Ideas to Save the Environment


June 28, 2017   By Aaron Grant, Summer Intern in Environmental Stewardship

Companies are looking for innovative ways to help the environment, like replacing these plastic can holders with biodegradable ones.

With more and more knowledge of our impact on the environment emerging to the surface every day, it is becoming increasingly evident that steps need to be taken in the direction of environmental friendliness.  

When the general population is first being exposed to ways in which they can improve the environment, they are bombarded with the cliché phrase “DO NOT LITTER!” But the fact of the matter is, no matter the extent to which one tries to avoid littering, some garbage will always find its way into our environment, one way or another.

Now let’s not get our grocery bags in a wad here. Litter can and will be drastically decreased with the committed efforts of the population. But for the hopeless trash that is already lost at sea, it is companies like the Saltwater Brewery Company that are making a difference.

Cracking a cold one has never been more environmentally friendly. This crafty beer company has... Continue Reading >>