SC lawmakers ask candidates to focus on environment - - Columbia, South Carolina

SC lawmakers ask candidates to focus on environment

COLUMBIA, SC - On the eve of the first presidential debate, a bipartisan group of South Carolina state legislators, led by Senator Larry Grooms (R-Berkeley) and Representatives Ben Hagood (R-Charleston) and Vida Miller (D-Georgetown), Tuesday released an open letter to the 2008 presidential candidates regarding our country's energy future.

The letter recognizes the importance of energy independence and climate change to South Carolina residents, and calls on all 2008 presidential candidates, regardless of party, to make these issues a priority in their conversations with Palmetto State voters.

Over two-thirds of the South Carolina House of Representatives signed the letter circulated by Representatives Hagood and Miller, including 44 Republicans and 44 Democrats.  House Majority Leader James Merrill (R-Berkeley) and Minority Leader Harry Ott (D-Calhoun) have also signed, as have the chairs of the Agriculture, Ethics, Judiciary, and Labor committees.

In addition, 21 South Carolina State Senators signed a similar letter circulated by Senator Larry Grooms, including 10 Republicans and 11 Democrats.

"With the nation's first-in-the-South primary, South Carolina will play a central role in the presidential nomination process.  As elected legislative leaders, we feel a responsibility to urge candidates visiting our state to address issues challenging both South Carolina and the nation as a whole," the legislators write. "We therefore encourage visiting presidential candidates to offer their strategies for developing a comprehensive energy policy to make our nation more secure and to create a healthy energy future," the House letter continues.

According to Senator Grooms and Representatives Hagood and Miller, South Carolina offers an ideal forum for addressing energy issues.  With its growing tourism industry and nearly 3,000 miles of tidal shoreline, the state is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

"South Carolina residents are concerned about our country's dependence on oil and the threat climate change poses to our state," Rep. Ben Hagood, Jr. said.  "Today we are urging each of the presidential candidates to release their comprehensive energy policy plans to address these concerns."  

"With our state's vibrant tourism industry and beautiful beaches at risk, the growing consequences of climate change have gotten the attention of South Carolinians of all parties," Rep. Vida Miller said.  "We encourage all of the presidential candidates to explain their plans to address our nation's energy challenges and curb climate change."

According to Senator Grooms, "The fact that both of these letters garnered strong bipartisan support shows that concerns about our energy future transcend politics.  We'll work together to ensure that we create a new clean energy economy and leave a more secure world for our children and grandchildren."

The message to presidential hopefuls couldn't be clearer:  the state's elected representatives expect presidential leadership to usher our country into a 21st century energy future.

Posted by Logan Smith
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