Now that the Supreme Court has agreed to hear South Carolina’s argument to disallow intervenors in the state’s lawsuit against North Carolina, South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster says he feels the case is slowly gravitating in a positive direction for the Palmetto State. South Carolina is suing the state of North Carolina for drawing too much water out of the Catawba River, which the states share. Duke Energy, the city of Charlotte, and the Catawba River Supply Project want there positions heard in the case. South Carolina has argued that the two states should argue the case without intervenors which will only make the case more costly and time consuming.
McMaster says the Supreme Court may ask to hear from two to as many as six parties when arguments on the intervenor issue are presented before the court in Washington, DC. “They certainly will let South Carolina make our argument, but they may not let all the opposition make their arguments. They may figure that some of them are duplicative. There is also a question whether they will let the Solicitor General make an argument. He has filed an amicus brief and wants to argue on behalf of South Carolina.” McMaster says no date has yet been set for the hearing.
McMaster says when all things are considered the Supreme Court works on its own timetable. “The Supreme Court works on terms when they hear cases, when they hear arguments. One, I think, is going to start soon. It may be filled up or they may put us in there, or we may be put off until the October term. We realy don’t know. This is case that’s in the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and they’ll handle it in the Way they see fit.”
The Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments about whether to let cities and utilities join the lawsuit. It is expected to hear the fundamental issue of the suit later.
McMaster says a number of attorneys and experts in several fields are working on the case on behalf of South Carolina and developing such a case requires a great deal of money. McMaster says when he brought the suit in 2007 he asked the South Carolina Legislature for $1.8 million. “We received $1.3 (million). We’ve almost spent all of that. I’ve asked for $2.2 million for the next fiscal year which starts this summer and we have not yet recieved any of that. of course we have a tight budget and that’s a problem. The House voted to give us about a million dollars, but we need $2.2 (million) and that’s holding it to a minimum.”
McMaster says the lawsuit against North Carolina is a case South Carolina must win because water will play a vital role in the future growth of the state.