The most important decision in the Administrative Law Court hearing yesterday was no decision.
Administrative Law Judge Ralph Anderson declined issuing a restraining order from the bench to stop construction on International Drive. Anderson said he needs more time to study the legal points argued and will issue a ruling later.
Meanwhile work to construct a road bed continues on International Drive.
Since work on the roadway began after Anderson ordered a state permit to be issued in August the issue of stopping that work became more complex because a federal permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was also issued.
Anderson said he doesn’t know if he, as a state judge, has the authority to issue a stay on a federal permit.
It’s a pretty sure bet he doesn’t and work will continue on the road bed for at least 30 more days as an appeal of Anderson’s August decision winds its way to the S.C. Court of Appeals.
Not ready to give up their obstruction attempts, the Coastal Conservation League and the SC Wildlife Federation are taking the battle to federal court with a new lawsuit filed against Horry County, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency.
The lawsuit claims the issuance of the permit by the Corps of Engineers was “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion or otherwise not in accordance with the law.”
The EPA erred by failing to veto the permit and did not take any action to override the Corps decision, according to the lawsuit.
The environmentalists are asking the federal court to declare the decision to issue the permit was an error of judgement by the Corps, that Horry County violated the law by beginning construction after the permit was issued and the EPA and Corps failed to perform their duties under the Clean Water Act.
The environmentalists also requested the federal court to issue an injunction forcing Horry County to halt construction and repair damage caused by work performed under the current permit.
When legal action began on this issue over a year ago, we reported the strategy of the environmentalists was to delay, delay, delay work on the project through court action in order to eventually make the legal costs so expensive the project would be abandoned.
It is just over a year ago that the environmentalists asked Horry County to pay The Nature Conservancy an amount equal to that already spent by the county on wetland mitigation credits ($ 1.6 million) so the project could go forward without court action.
The county declined to participate in this apparent extortion, lawsuits resulted and the legal fees keep piling up.