Congaree Riverkeeper is among several groups across the South suing President Donald Trump’s administration over recent rollbacks of the National Environmental Policy Act. The Southern Environmental Law Center is representing the various groups in the suit. Riverkeeper is a nonprofit that advocates on behalf of rivers and other waterways in the Columbia area. The organization notes the NEPA has allowed citizens to have a voice in major projects that affect the environment, including the coming Carolina Crossroads initiative along Interstates 20 and 26, and the relicensing of the Westinghouse nuclear fuel plant in Lower Richland. In all, 17 environmental groups from across the South are part of the lawsuit. In a release, the Southern Environmental Law Center says that, if the White House’s rewrite of NEPA is allowed to stand, it “will reduce the public input that has guided major projects for decades, further diminish the voices of communities that have long suffered environmental injustices, and mask the full extent of polluting projects.” Riverkeeper director Bill Stangler says, “NEPA has been a critical tool for protecting our rivers and our communities. We will continue to work with our partners to fight this misguided and illegal rollback of one of our country’s most important environmental laws.”
REI sets opening date for BullStreet store
Outdoor equipment and apparel store REI has confirmed it will open its store in Columbia’s BullStreet District on Aug. 14. The store was initially scheduled to open in the spring, but was delayed because of COVID-19. As reported by The Post and Courier’s Mike Fitts, “(a)long with coming Starbucks and the Iron Hill Brewery and Restaurant, the REI opening is expected to launch the long-awaited retail area at the BullStreet District, giving more Columbians a reason to visit the 20-year project to reinvent the former Department of Mental Health facility. The construction of the Starbucks location, adjacent to the new REI, now is underway.” REI will have a number of health and safety protocols in place in the store, including masks required for all customers over the age of 2 and limiting the number of people who can be inside. It also will offer curbside pickup. REI is a cooperative owned by its 19 million members. Membership costs $20 and provides a 10 percent discount on purchases.
Clyburn wants national plan to battle COVID-19
Longtime U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, who chairs the House select subcommittee on the coronavirus, says the nation is now in a “public health catastrophe” in regard to COVID-19. The House Majority Whip says the U.S. can no longer battle the virus in a state-by-state manner. “It is clear that the administration’s approach of deferring to the states, sidelining the experts and rushing to reopen has prolonged this virus and led to thousands of preventable deaths. The United States’ response stands out as among the worst of any country in the world,” Clyburn said on July 31, according to The Post and Courier’s Caitlin Byrd. At a hearing on July 31, Clyburn showed a chart that indicated the coronavirus has walloped the U.S. far worse than in some European countries. That drew the ire of President Donald Trump. “Somebody please tell Congressman Clyburn, who doesn’t have a clue, that the chart he put up indicating more CASES for the U.S. than Europe, is because we do MUCH MORE testing than any other country in the World. If we had no testing, or bad testing, we would show very few CASES,” Trump tweeted, which, as reported by Byrd, is a false claim which has been debunked by the president’s own top public health officials.