Wednesday, June 20, 2007


We are so glad that Greenlight Biofuels chose Laurens County, specifically Clinton, for its new operation. Erik Lytikainen, VP for Development and the lead man for Greenlight here in SC, has been great to work with and we are thankful that he and Greenlight decided to locate in Laurens County. I envision the day when all of the County vehicles will be burning biodiesel fuels. Here is a link to Greenlight's website:

What is so cool about this biodiesel fuel is that there is no conversion needed to standard diesel engines. Here is the announcement from the SC Department of Commerce:

Greenlight Biofuels Announces Carolina Gateway Project in Laurens County, S.C.
Facility to Produce Renewable Fuel and Bring New Opportunity to Laurens County

Columbia, S.C. – The South Carolina Department of Commerce and the Laurens County Development Corporation joined Greenlight Biofuels, LLC today in announcing that the company will develop a biodiesel production facility in Laurens County, South Carolina. Once completed, the Carolina Gateway project will produce up to 10 million gallons of renewable biodiesel fuel each year and will create up to 15 full-time jobs. The company expects to begin construction of the facility before the end of 2007.

Greenlight President Allen Cunningham remarked, “We are excited to be a part of an industry that contributes to national energy independence, local economic growth, and a cleaner environment. This project will continue Greenlight’s rapid advance into the biodiesel market.”
“Today’s announcement works hand-in-hand to preserve the quality of life we enjoy in South Carolina while providing an economic benefit to the local community. Also, given the jobs connected with this type of industry, it’s another step towards diversifying our economy and creating new opportunities in our state,” said Gov. Mark Sanford.

"Everyone is challenged to keep pace with the increasing cost of fuel and energy. These day-to-day costs can make or break a farm or any business. Renewable fuels energize the economy, add to our nation’s security, and protect the environment while giving a boost to farm profit,” said Hugh Weathers, South Carolina Commissioner of Agriculture. “Production of renewable fuels like Greenlight Biofuels’ biodiesel allow South Carolina’s rural communities, farmers, and entrepreneurs to benefit economically and, at the same time, helps our nation work towards greater energy independence. I welcome Greenlight Biofuels to South Carolina and commend them for energizing the state’s economy."

“We are very pleased to have a company of this type coming to Laurens County. It shows that Laurens County is a very pro-business county. We have been very impressed with the company and look forward to an excellent working relationship,” said Jim Coleman, Chairman, Laurens County Council.

“The alternative energy field is a very high profile industry and has significant potential in the future. This could be a stepping stone for Laurens County to attract other high profile companies in the future,” said Marvin Moss, Sr. Project Manager, Laurens County Development Corporation.

Greenlight Biofuels, LLC was founded by Greenlight Energy Resources to develop, build, own, and operate biodiesel facilities in North America. Greenlight Energy Resources was formed by the principals of Greenlight Energy, Inc (GEI) following the $100 million sale of their wind energy company to BP Alternative Energy North America, Inc. At the time of the sale in 2006, GEI was one of the largest independent wind energy companies in the country with a 6,000 MW development pipeline comprised of large-scale wind energy projects in 15 states.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Immigration Round 2

Special Note: The picture of the flags on the post below is a shot of the flags hoisted by Hispanic demonstrators in California. Notice that it is a Mexican flag flown above an upside down American flag.

I travel around the state a lot - probably around 60,000 miles per year - in my business. Let me be clear that the opinions I have on immigration are formulated from hearing what a lot of folks are saying in a lot of different areas about illegal immigration. Most South Carolinians, from what I ascertain, want and expect the Legislature to began working on the illegal immigration issue here in South Carolina. They are not sure what we can do, but they do expect us to begin doing something. I don't really know what we can effectively do, either, but I want to see the debate begin.

The House passed three immigration bills, with the main focus on a study committee process. I refiled these bills in May as one bill, since the Senate is insisting on S392 and not taking up the House's bills. House Judiciary is not taking up S392 since we have already passed the three House bills. I had hoped to recall S392 in order to amend that bill to this version of three and keep the debate alive. That is the reasoning behind my thwarted efforts to recall S392.

I commend Senator Graham for having the statesmanship to tackle controversial issues such as this. I think he needs to take this one step at a time, though, and secure the borders first - I mean, it is already the law in the United States that we are not enforcing - and then we can tackle the other issues. But maybe that is too simple.

My apologies go to the agriculture community and the manufacturing community if I unfairly singled them out in the last post. Most importantly to Farm Bureau and to the SC Chamber of Commerce. These groups represent a constituency, too, and do a GREAT job advocating for them. It was not a shot at them or even a shot across the bow - I simply stated that in contrast to what I am hearing out of these camps - "the majority of citizens in this state want to see us tackle the immigration issue. And we can do a few small things to make the environment less attractive to illegals...."

Now, I realize that most folks do not differentiate between illegal immigrants and legal immigrants, legal workers and legalized citizens. I further realize that even legal immigrants will only tolerate harassment for so long before they leave for more hospitable environments. We don't need that, nor can our economy afford that.

I also know that industries such as agriculture, horticulture, home building and construction, along with the hospitality industry have trouble getting and keeping folks to do the necessary work.

This issue is on the minds of a lot of folks. My opinions here and in the previous post are meant to help us think through the issues at hand and begin the healthy debate.

If it needs to be only addressed at the Federal level and cannot be effectively dealt with at the state level, so be it. Just make sure that some of the money collected from the immigrants under the bill currently being debated in Congress comes back to the states to make up for the money we spend on services we have provided here.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Why worry about immigration in South Carolina?

South Carolina needs to act, and has every right to act, on the illegal immigration issue. Why?

You see, with Georgia passing a comprehensive immigration bill (passed in the spring of 2006) and North Carolina and Tennessee working on one likewise, it just seems to make sense that the illegals would come here since we are giving away state services to them - such as taxpayer supported education, medicaid and other social services.
For instance, just think about the non-english speaking impact on public education and PACT results as one example.

But, hey, this is a Federal issue, right? Come on, folks, it is your tax dollars here in South Carolina that pay for a lot of the freebies for these immigrants. That is why it is a state issue - and even more so with the Congress failing to do anything substantive.

Rep. Mike Pitts filed a comprehensive bill this winter, as did Sen. Chip Campsen. We have tried to recall Senate Bill S392 from House Judiciary all spring. I know I have tried numerous times, as has Rep. Mike Pitts, Rep. Eric Bedingfield and Rep. Dwight Loftis. Thanks to these guys!

to Rep. Gloria Haskins, Rep. John Scott, Rep. Harry Ott, Rep. Chris Hart and Rep. Bakari Sellers
for blocking any immigration debate on the House floor. Contrary to other opponents like the State Chamber of Commerce and Farm Bureau, the majority of citizens in this state want to see us tackle the immigration issue. And we can do a few small things to make the environment less attractive to illegals - and that is what we are talking about - illegals - folks who have broken one major United States law by crossing the border.

Just Food for thought:
It is my understanding that there is no Federal cap on the number of agriculture workers that can be brought into the US with a green card work visa. They shouldn't need illegals, then. Work with us here, guys. I don't think anyone wants to hurt the agriculture community's ability to grow, pick or milk this nation's food.

(EDITED INSERT - June 19th - see also IMMIGRATION ROUND 2) I fully understand that the agriculture industries have trouble getting and keeping the necessary labor. And the lack of a Federal cap doesn't mean that there is an unlimited supply of laborers, as one would assume. But the question to ask is "Is there a means to work within the current system to bring in the necessary legal workers to satisfy the demands of the agriculture industry?"

And to the manufacturing community: Make a good faith effort to check immigration status, document everything and then don't worry about the state penalizing you. All the bills that I have seen simply want you to make a good faith effort. I know you are already doing this - because you shouldn't want to - and don't - hire illegals, right?

To our Congressional Delegation: First Things First: SECURE OUR BORDERS!
The will of the people is there. Spend what it takes. You can justify it, since that is what the American people seem to want. If we don't stop the tide, the rest is just rhetorical anyway. A monumental task? Sure it is. But we are Americans and we can do anything we put our minds to. Build what you need, hire what you need - and "git 'er done." You eat an elephant one bite at a time. And while we are stopping the flow, you guys in Washington can work out how we deal with the 12 million or so illegals that are already here, as well as the "who, how and how many LEGAL immigrants" that we Americans want to let into OUR COUNTRY every year.

The Impact:
I stumbled onto this video clip which puts the numbers into perspective. It is worth watching for the 14 or so minutes it takes.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

In layman's terms

You are in the cashier's lane at Wal-Mart. You have a few items which you regularly purchase and you watch the cashier ring up the sale. She overcharges you. You ask her to check the total - she re-figures - admitting to overcharging you, but she remains insistent that you overpay for the goods/services that you bought.

Reality Check: South Carolina has overcharged and over-collected from the taxpayers to the tune of $1.5 Billion - the amount over and above the expected revenue amount used to calculate and spend in last year's budget. It is called a "Budget Surplus" but in reality it is an amount that was collected over and above the needs of the state.

In real numbers it looks like $1,500,000,000. As my colleague Rep. Walt McLeod says: that's a lot of dough!

South Carolinians that are paying attention are asking for a refund of the overcharges.

Now, I don't think that South Carolinians mind a reasonable growth of government - mirroring the growth of the state's population and it's thirst for services from state government. Nor do I think that most South Carolinians really mind seeing the state spend money fixing roads and bridges or investing in the state's port, a jewel in the state's crown in my opinion. That is common-sense stuff. I don't, however, believe that the taxpayers want to see Columbia spend all of the money they were overtaxed.

The Budget Conference Committee is arguring over a $170 million tax cut (income tax and groceries). Let's see - out of $1.5 BILLION that amounts to 11% plus or minus returned to the taxpayer - while 89% or $1.3 BILLION is still spent.

We could and should do more to limit government's growth and return some of this hard-earned money to the taxpayer. We are setting ourselves up for a fall (really a fall in many forms). Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.

For me, it comes down to one basic question of "What is the proper role of government and the government's use of taxpayer dollars?"