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Engaging & Guarding Laurens County's Environment v. South Carolina Department of Health & Environmental Control

ELR Citation: 44 ELR 20065
Nos. 2011-201706, (S.C., 03/12/2014)

The Supreme Court of South Carolina reinstated an administrative law court (ALC) decision that reversed and denied a state agency's issuance of a permit for a construction and demolition landfill. The ALC denied the permit based on its conclusion that the region already had more landfill capacity than the county or region needed. An appellate court reversed, concluding that the agency acted within its discretion by declining to consider additional factors in issuing the landfill permit. But the ALC was free to consider the excess regional capacity as an "additional factor" in determining need and committed no error of law in reversing the agency's permit decision. An ALC is not bound to an agency's factual findings or permitting decision. Rather, it may conduct a full contested hearing and make its own findings of fact. Here, the ALC properly considered the regional excess landfill capacity by making a conclusion of law based upon its own findings of fact, and those findings are supported by substantial evidence.