Public Need and Safety Means Nothing to Coastal Conservation League

(Ed. Note – The following op-ed was sent to Grand Strand Daily by Bill Beidleman, a member of ‘Citizens for Paving of International Drive. It provides an excellent response to recent media statements by Coastal Conservation League officials regarding the recent Administrative Law Court ruling on the issue.)

The Coastal Conservation League (CCL) continues its objection and delaying tactics regarding the International Drive Paving Project in Horry County, a project direly needed by the residents along the Highway 90 corridor portion of the County.

Early this year, the League, through its legal arm, the South Carolina Environmental Law Project (SCELP), brought a request for contested case hearing before the South Carolina Administrative Law Court. On July 7, Judge Ralph King Anderson rendered his decision in the case. He ruled that CCL failed the burden of proof in every one of at least nine (9) arguments they put before him.

Of greatest importance to the residents, was Judge Anderson’s ruling that: “The proposed road will significantly improve the health and safety of a substantial part of the County’s population by:

  • allowing quicker access by emergency responders;
    • allowing quicker access for them to trauma centers, emergency rooms, and other critical health services; and
    • improving firefighting capabilities and hurricane evacuation.”

Yet, despite the Court’s overwhelming repudiation of CCL’s arguments and expression of the public need for this roadway, listen to the response from CCL and their legal team:

  1. Amy Armstrong, SCELP attorney for CCL, in a WPDE interview, “we want him (Judge Anderson) to reconsider.” And if he doesn’t, Armstrong says they’ll appeal again.
  2. Nancy Cave, North Coast Director for CCL, in a televised interview, quote “we expected this decision” This statement begs the question, if you expected to lose in a court of law, why did you bring the case in the first place? Is this what your contributors expect – spending tens of thousands of dollars on a case you have no expectation of winning? If you didn’t expect to win, what is the real motive behind these actions?
  3. Dana Beach, Executive Director of CCL in the Sun News, July 15: “The Judge failed to rule on two key points: the extent to which construction will protect or improve water quality, and whether the project complies with policies on fill material”. Mr. Beach is obviously oblivious to Judge Andersons ruling. “Water quality” is referenced fifty two (52) times in the written decision.

After significant review, Judge Anderson ruled that, “The evidence established that there would be minimal direct or indirect cumulative impacts of the proposed activity on water quality. Rather, the required stormwater controls would eliminate runoff into the adjacent wetlands to the maximum extent practicable. Also, the culverts that will be installed will improve the hydrology and water quality of the reconnected wetlands.”

It is obvious that the Coastal Conservation League, masked as environmentalists, will use any device at their disposal to stymie and thwart progress. Congressman Tom Rice said it best some time ago in a Letter to the Editor of the Sun News when he said “I believe the term “environmentalism” has been hijacked by a group of folks who should more correctly be labeled obstructionists. They believe their duty is to put up roadblocks to progress. Friends, there are people out there who would, if they could, prevent the construction of any new roads”.

It is also obvious that the Coastal Conservation League has absolutely no regard for the residents along the Hwy 90 corridor, white and blue collar Americans and hundreds of retirees who deserve better. Our Judicial System has exercised its role in this matter and the Coastal Conservation League has had ample opportunity to prove its case in a court of law. The fact is they have no case, as evidenced in Judge Anderson’s decision at the Administrative Law Court.

The next time a wildfire takes another 70 homes, the next time emergency responders aren’t able to reach a heart attack victim in time, the next time one of these good residents fails to get to the hospital in time to save a life, will the Coastal Conservation League stand up and be accountable for their role in these incidents?

Sadly my friends, the answer to that question is “No”. They live in another world, oblivious to basic human needs. They would be shocked to think their actions would have anything to do with the lack of adequate response to emergencies.

These are people with an agenda and that agenda is all that is of any importance to them. They simply DO NOT CARE about ANYTHING else. They don’t live here and don’t face the reality of the real need for this project to be completed.

Evidence – Judge Anderson’s ruling on the need for the road and Amy Armstrong’s immediate reply: “If he doesn’t reconsider, we will appeal again.”

Your Honor, I rest my case.

Bill Beidleman
Resident in the Hwy 90 Corridor
Citizens for the Paving of International Drive

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