By Paul Gable
A recent meeting between residents in the SC 90 area and representatives of the Coastal Conservation League highlighted the International Drive stalemate.
According to sources familiar with the meeting, homeowners in the area want the road built and the environmentalists won’t give in unless they get their way.
Their way is to add millions of dollars to the cost of the project for bear tunnels, electronic warning signals, higher fencing and additional mitigation not needed for the project at the cost of a $1.6 million payment to The Nature Conservancy.
In other words, the environmentalist tactic is to delay the project for as long as possible and to add as much additional cost as possible in the hope the road project will be abandoned.
And I don’t believe these delaying tactics are about bears in the area at all.
Fifteen years ago, the Horry County Solid Waste Authority board discussed using authority funds to pave International Drive as a means of reducing garbage truck traffic on SC 90.
The environmentalists were never heard from during these discussions.
When the project began being talked about seriously at the county level (in the early to mid-2000’s), SCDNR chief counsel Buford Mabry showed up at a county council meeting to talk about the project affecting a pair of red cockaded woodpeckers that were allegedly nesting near the proposed road bed.
It sounded a ridiculous argument then and still does on reflection. I’ve always believed Mr. Mabry’s address to council was prompted by considerations other than red cockaded woodpeckers, but it slowed discussions about the project down.
Only after International Drive was added to the Ride II project list and serious planning for the project began did the Coastal Conservation League and SC Wildlife Federation introduce bears into the discussions.
The meeting earlier this week was about divide the opposition and conquer, a standard environmentalist tactic.
However, I don’t believe it worked. The environmentalists continue to wear the black hats on this issue and their continued opposition can only hurt future efforts to oppose projects about which there may be real environmental concerns.