Whether you are a resident of Berkeley County or Charleston County, we are all blessed to experience the incredible quality of life that comes with living in the Lowcountry.
The Lowcountry is a global leader in manufacturing, hospitality, and conservation. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bureau of Economic Analysis ranked our area as having the state’s most productive economy thanks to the many great industries here.
For our area’s economic growth to continue, we must invest in infrastructure improvements such as functional and wider roads and better public transportation options. We also must recognize the growing importance of the clean energy industry in South Carolina and support smart, pro-growth infrastructure policies across all levels of government to rebuild our nation’s critical resources while creating jobs and expanding economic opportunities in the process. After all, the issue of clean energy is no longer a partisan one. In fact, a recent poll released by Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions (CRES) found that 76% of Republican voters support the federal government taking action to accelerate the development and use of clean energy in the U.S.
Here in South Carolina, the need to reduce carbon emissions and further develop our state’s clean energy industry is obvious. The impacts of a rapidly changing climate are already being felt in many parts of the Lowcountry. Over the past decade, the number of severe storms has increased, with coastal flooding throughout the region intensifying. Without a solution, these issues will continue to harm local homes, businesses and industries if left unaddressed. By including energy in infrastructure policies, we can help power a stronger, faster economic recovery for our state that also prioritizes a more sustainable and competitive future.
To address the issue of flooding that is often brought on by the increased severity of storms, one measure that my colleagues and I at the State House can support is to fund the Office of Resilience this session. Created by legislation last year, this office will prepare for and reduce the impacts of flood disasters. By funding this office fully in this year’s budget, we can save taxpayer money in the long run by implementing flood mitigation measures across the state.
In order for the Lowcountry to continue being a global leader supported in part by our state’s admired coastal environment, we must also all work together to address issues such as road repair and construction, bridge repair, coastal flooding, and modernizing of our energy grid. Simply put, not fixing our state’s infrastructure could undermine our success.
When it comes to these long-overdue infrastructure investments, the can has been kicked down the road for too long. I stand ready to work with my colleagues, on both sides of the aisle, to advance smart policies that address these concerns as part of a broader effort to modernize and update our state and nation’s entire infrastructure, which includes ensuring clean energy is included in our priorities.
Further, our efforts at the state level must be matched with efforts at the federal level. I know that Sen. Tim Scott understands the need for smart infrastructure investments that create jobs and bring benefits to all South Carolinians, and I am hopeful that he will join his colleagues to advance bipartisan, common sense, including market-based clean energy policies, such as those passed by Congress as part of the bipartisan Energy Act of 2020. Such policies can help create much-needed jobs and bolster our economic recovery.
There is a clear opportunity to reignite infrastructure investments in South Carolina as part of a broader investment in fixing our nation’s infrastructure in order to create a better future for our state and country. Let’s work together to make it happen.
State House Representative Mark Smith represents District 99 and can be reached at MarkSmith@schouse.gov