Senate Bill 105 and House Bill 3565 threaten to limit citizens’ ability to successfully challenge the government when a citizen believes a permit is incorrectly issued. This bill weakens what is known as the Automatic Stay - a pause button that prevents harm from occurring while a challenge to a permit is considered.
The Automatic Stay temporarily prevents activity when a permit decision is challenged before it's finalized. The “stay” allows the court to assess the facts and law in order to determine whether the permit was properly granted. The “stay” avoids irreparable harm to an affected party or place before that harm occurs, making sure money is not wasted before the permit is granted.
This tool may be used by a wide range of entities - conservation groups, wastewater utilities, hospitals, restaurants, and any other entity that must obtain, or may be affected by, a DHEC permit for operation.
The stakes are high in permit challenges, for both an applicant and a challenger. Allowing an activity to begin with a faulty permit or requiring citizens to post high bonds would significantly harm citizens’ ability to protect their community from irreparable harm.
S.105 and H.3565 propose a set 30 day limit to the Stay instead of the current process where a motion can be made at any time to have it lifted (and a hearing must be held within 30 days). The bill then makes any further hold be placed only through injunctive relief, putting the burden of proof on citizens and making the process much more costly.
Ask Legislators to oppose S.105 and H.3565 and protect the automatic stay.