"Often at night I stand on a tall bluff overlooking the far reachers of the lower Santee. ... An entire civilization has vanished. Man has entered nature's sanctuary, but his entry has been an incursion not a conquest."
- Archibald Rutledge,
Those words of Mr. Rutledge, who was for many years South Carolina's poet laureate, were quoted in a letter to the Rural Utilities Services sent by state Sen. Chip Campsen, who has added his objections to the mounting opposition over the proposed electrical transmission line across the Santee Delta.
In Sen. Campsen's astute assessment, the towering project would itself constitute a significant "incursion" to the Delta, which he described as "one of the most ecologically diverse and protected ecosystems on the east coast."
The Charleston Republican, who is chairman of the Senate Fish, Game and Forestry Committee, described the extent to which South Carolina has worked to keep the Delta protected. Altogether, the state has been instrumental in safeguarding 50,000 acres, including the Santee Coastal Reserve Wildlife Management Area, Santee Delta WMA and Yawkey Wildlife Center.
In addition, private landowners have protected tens of thousands of acres by conservation easement. And the area is contiguous to the federal Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge.
Mr. Campsen questioned the actual need for the power line, which he said would require "millions of federal dollars to mitigate ... statistically improbable power outages, and severely impact a unique and pristine ecosystem in the process."
He noted that his sentiments are "largely shared by the very people that would be serviced by the proposed transmission line."
Certainly, those at a public hearing in McClellanville last month were almost unanimously against the plan. Village resident Harriott Cheves Leland outlines her opposition in a letter on this page.
Public comments are supposed to mean something to public agencies, and when the opposition is both general and intense, it should be clear that other options ought to be pursued.
In this instance, there is the possibility of providing the improved service sought by Central Electric Power Cooperative and Berkeley Electric Cooperative along another route.
Options include upgrading an existing SCE&G electrical distribution line from the south, or installing a renewable power system, such as solar, or a combination of the two. An SCE&G spokesman said his utility is willing to negotiate an alternative plan. But a massive transmission system as currently envisioned isn't an acceptable option.
That project would be a blight on the landscape, and an unwarranted "incursion" to this unspoiled area of coastal South Carolina.