Environmentalists decry S. Carolina law change on permits

Businesses have scored a legislative victory in South Carolina that could make it easier to develop construction projects without waiting for a final decision on state environmental permits.

The House approved a measure Thursday giving environmentalists, citizens groups and developers only three days to prepare for hearings on whether projects can be built before administrative courts resolve permit disputes. That's down from 10 days.

In addition to the time limit for a hearing, environmental groups say the bill also prevents what is known as an automatic stay on some projects if a developer has obtained many of the permits.

Environmentalists believe the changes make it more difficult to ensure that projects aren't built before permit disputes are resolved. If a project is built and the developer later loses his permit case in court, it will be difficult to force a construction project to be torn down or scaled back, they say.

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