Commentary: Time to overhaul DHEC

This editorial appeared in The Myrtle Beach Sun.

Some readers may find this hard to believe, but the S.C. environmental bureaucracy's inept handling of toxic groundwater pollution in Myrtle Beach is small potatoes compared with some of its other blunders. As The (Columbia) State reported in a series of stories initiated Sunday and continuing this week, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control has far more serious miscues to atone for.

These new reports remind us that the agency's culture is broken-backed. In creating DHEC in 1973, the General Assembly required that in administering environmental law, the agency take the financial health of regulated industries into account.

The legislation also failed to make DHEC directly accountable to elected officials. The DHEC bureaucracy reports to a seven-member board appointed by the governor. So the governor and legislators are conveniently insulated from the heat generated by its mistakes.

Is it any wonder DHEC often sides with polluters in disputes with residents while acting slowly to warn the public about safety hazards. How can it be otherwise, given these structural flaws?

To read the complete editorial, visit The Myrtle Beach Sun.