- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Recent editorials from South Carolina newspapers:


Aug. 5

Post and Courier, Charleston, South Carolina, on state’s climate change and shift toward alternative energy:

The danger of sea level rise associated with global warming should be of concern to every resident in coastal South Carolina - particularly in view of the scientific evidence.

Indeed, President Barack Obama specifically cited the hazards to Charleston from rising seas in his introductory remarks Monday about new rules by which the Environmental Protection Agency would curtail CO2 emissions from power plants.

But there is a hazard of a different sort inherent in the administration’s decision to bypass Congress on such a major policy decision.

As Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said, “It’s an issue which should be handled by the people’s elected representatives in Congress, not by unelected bureaucrats at the EPA.”

Consequently, the new rule will be challenged in Congress and the courts. And recent judicial decisions suggest some likelihood of success for opponents of the administration’s action.

For example, just five weeks ago, the Supreme Court ruled, though by a mere 5-4 margin, that the EPA “unreasonably” interpreted the Clean Air Act by limiting emissions of toxic pollutants from power plants without first considering the costs to industry.

Ideally, the legislative branch would join the executive branch to forestall climate change and sea level rise by advancing initiatives for alternative energy and reducing carbon emissions.

That’s not going to happen in today’s polarized political climate, and unilateral executive actions won’t help the process.

Overall, though, the administration’s worthy goal is to reduce electricity-related greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent over the next 15 years by cutting back on existing coal-fired power plants, preventing new coal and some new natural gas plants from being built, and encouraging a shift to renewable energy.

Unlike many states, South Carolina is well positioned for a shift toward alternative energy sources that don’t produce greenhouse emissions.

For example, three major utilities have been working together on two new nuclear reactors at the V.C. Summer site in Fairfield County since 2009.

When South Carolina Electric and Gas Co., Duke Energy and Santee Cooper pitched the plan to state regulators, they cited the potential for future carbon rules as a key reason to increase the state’s nuclear capacity. The new EPA rules confirm that logic.

Unfortunately, nuclear capacity isn’t cheap to build - the new reactors will cost more than $10 billion. And South Carolina changed the law in 2007 to pass off much of that burden - and the resulting financial risk from cost overruns or delays - on to consumers.

As a result, SCE&G; customers have seen rates skyrocket in the past five years.

For those sick of rising electric rates, there is now the option to cut out utilities altogether by using solar power in South Carolina.

In fact, solar-equipped homes that generate excess electricity can sell it back to utilities at the same rate they would buy power.

South Carolina has recently become among the states most friendly to solar power in the nation.

The new EPA rules - providing they survive legislative and judicial challenges - would make that Palmetto State advantage even stronger.

It also would address the fundamental threat of rising sea levels to the South Carolina coast.




Aug. 2

Times and Democrat, Orangeburg, South Carolina, on removing and altering monuments and historical markers:

The continuing call to alter monuments and historical markers and change the names of buildings, roads and other public places associated with the Confederacy, slavery and/or opposition to the civil rights movement gives ammunition to those who warned that taking down Confederate battle flags is just a step in a broader political agenda.

Consider calls to remove the “Confederate Memorial Carving” chiseled into a side of Stone Mountain in Georgia. The image of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, General Robert E. Lee and General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson spans three acres and is the largest high-relief sculpture in the world - even larger than Mount Rushmore.

Changes to the carving would take action from Georgia’s General Assembly based on a state law protecting it from any changes without legislative approval - a law similar to South Carolina’s Heritage Act, which is now the subject of court challenge.

Destruction of the sculpture should not happen.

Consider the reaction in this country to atrocities such as the Taliban’s destruction of Buddhist monuments in Afghanistan or ISIS’ destruction of religious shrines and other historical sites that do not fit with their religious doctrine. And should ISIS ever gain control of areas in Egypt that are home to the great monuments such as the pyramids, the extremists would destroy those too.

In America, is Mount Rushmore next? The images of four presidents are carved there. Two of them, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, owned slaves.

Theodore Roosevelt is there. Weigh his assessment of improving race relations in 1905. In a New York speech, he referred to white Americans as the forward race whose responsibility it was to raise the status of minorities through training the backward races in industrial efficiency, political capacity and domestic morality.

What was accepted as the norm in the times of Washington, Jefferson and Roosevelt cannot be measured by the standards of today. Even Abraham Lincoln’s approach to race can be questioned. In an 1862 letter to Horace Greeley, Lincoln wrote:

“My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union.”

Do we remove Lincoln, too, from Mount Rushmore?

Meanwhile, the S.C. Democratic Party is considering renaming its signature annual event to eliminate recognition of Jefferson and Andrew Jackson because both were slave owners.

While the Democrats can make such a change if they wish for any and all reasons they choose, judging Jefferson and Jackson by today’s standards of the 21st century is misguided. And if Democrats wish to take such renaming and revision to their logical conclusion, why not change the name of the political party itself?

The Democratic Party was the party of John C. Calhoun and others who defended slavery prior to the Civil War and the party of segregationists who fought civil rights laws in the 1960s.

Because the Democratic Party once stood for such does not mean the name should be abandoned. Its history is its history and needs to be recognized as such. And its name being associated with that history does not change that it stands for much different ideals today.

To reiterate our position: Please move on from a debate focused on the past and into prioritizing the present before the unity achieved through universal disdain for racism in its ugliest forms dissolves into new divisions.




July 29

Rock Hill (South Carolina) Herald on teaching students to read:

Working to ensure that every student in the Rock Hill school district learns to read by the time he or she reaches the third grade may be the most constructive thing the district can do to ensure the educational success of those students. But that doesn’t mean the district should allow older students to fall through the cracks.

Teaching children to read by the third grade will remain a top priority for the district. But Superintendent Kelly Pew said Monday during a school board retreat that middle school and high school students who don’t read at their grade level also will get more help in the upcoming year.

Older students who need help will be directed to several remedial programs offered by the district. Those programs primarily will be available outside of class because fundamental reading skills are not part of the regular curriculum in middle or high school.

For some students who have not mastered reading by the time they reach their teens, it will be too late. A recent study by the American Educational Research Association found that a student who can’t read on grade level by third grade is four times less likely to graduate by age 19 than a child who is proficient at reading by that time.

Add poverty to the mix, and a non-reading third grader is 13 times less likely to graduate on time than his or her peers who can read.

Reading by the third grade has become something of a universal benchmark. Schools teach reading for the first three grades, but after that children aren’t so much learning to read as using their reading skills to master other topics.

That helps explain why teaching children to read early is so crucial. If students aren’t proficient in reading, chances are they also will struggle with any other courses that require the ability to read.

By the time they have reached middle school, that pattern of failure is likely to be well entrenched. And bad performance will contribute to a bad attitude toward school, poor work habits and an inclination to drop out.

But many of those students who are not fully proficient at reading undoubtedly could be helped even at a later age. Many may simply need one-on-one attention or a review of reading fundamentals to fine-tune their reading skills.

While the emphasis should remain on teaching children to read by third grade, we think the district is right not to give up on older students. If remedial instruction can provide a lifeline to those students, it might prevent them from graduating late or dropping out of school altogether, and improve their prospects for a productive future.



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