Across South Carolina

Unemployment money shrinks as claims rise

COLUMBIA --- Battered by high unemployment, South Carolina is running out of money to pay benefits to out-of-work residents, and Gov. Mark Sanford's office said Tuesday that it was not committed to seeking federal help.

South Carolina has tapped a $15 million line of credit from the federal government, but the governor has yet to ask for the $147 million needed to get the state through the end of March.

Officials project the unemployment fund will run out by the end of the year, and the head of the state Unemployment Security Commission said the weekly payments of up to $326 for about 77,000 people could cease. Currently, South Carolina is paying out more than $14 million a week in benefits.

Air permit granted for coal-fired power plant

COLUMBIA --- South Carolina's health and environmental authority has approved air permits with strict monitoring of mercury for a coal-fired power plant proposed by state-owned utility Santee Cooper, state officials said Tuesday.

The permit allows Santee Cooper to build a plant on the Great Pee Dee River with two coal-fired boilers that would produce steam to run two 600-megawatt generators. The utility has said it needs the $1.25 billion facility to meet growing demand for electricity that current plants won't be able to provide as early as 2013.

Under the permit, Santee Cooper would be required to install air pollution control devices to reduce emissions of several pollutants.

It also will be required to monitor mercury output at the plant and to conduct a six-month study to determine whether emissions can be further reduced.