Rice writes legislation to stop environmental groups from holdin - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Rice writes legislation to stop environmental groups from holding up major infrastructure projects

Congressman Tom Rice has written legislation to try and stop environmental groups from pursuing lawsuits against big infrastructure projects. (Source: WMBF News) Congressman Tom Rice has written legislation to try and stop environmental groups from pursuing lawsuits against big infrastructure projects. (Source: WMBF News)

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The construction of Interstate 73 is the closest it has ever been to starting.

The permit application has been filed, thousands of public comments have been submitted and now it is just a waiting game to find out if the permit will be approved.

But some lawmakers, like Congressman Tom Rice from South Carolina's Seventh Congressional District, fear that while the reality of I-73 seems near, it could be jeopardized by environmental groups like the Coastal Conservation League, which continues to fight another road battle against the expansion of International Drive.

That is why he has proposed a bill in Congress that could hold those groups back from filing lawsuits against these big projects.

"An environmental group can come in and pay $500 and file a lawsuit and hold it up for years with no investment and no skin in the game, and sometimes really very little in terms of substantive problems with the project," Rice said. "There's people out there that just want to hold up progress. They just want things the way they are."

Rice believes these kinds of actions, in the long run, are hurting people who live in the local area.

"There's nothing that we can do that will more impact job creation, that will more impact people's wealth, that will more impact opportunity for our children and grandchildren than infrastructure and, in particular, I-73," Rice said.

He is working to stop what he calls extortion, writing and proposing a bill in Congress that would require the "loser" to pay the court costs and attorney fees for the winning side of the issue.

"We've got to release ourselves from a little bit of this red tape," Rice said. "My position is that there are layer after layer after layer of both governmental and agency and public review. Environmental groups should be a part of that public review. I have no problem with that at all, but to give them a veto power - that's essentially what you're doing - you're saying after everybody else is finished and they're satisfied and they're ready to move on, then one person can have a veto power to stop a project like this. That's a little absurd."

Those on the other side of this debate say this proposed legislation does not take the public's best interest into account and that it is not as simple as cutting a little bit of red tape.

"If we don't have these checks and balances, then the public does not have a chance to comment and does not have a chance to say, 'Wait a second,' and projects will move forward without anybody ever knowing about it," said Nancy Cave with the Coastal Conservation League. "It is critically important that the public who is paying for it, who will be using the project perhaps - but also will bear the impacts of that project - they need to have a public say."

Cave believes this bill could stop people from speaking up about these kinds of issues.

"If you require payment that could get very expensive, then you are denying the public participation. You are rigging the system towards the developers and special interests who will be making millions off these projects," Cave said. "I don't think that's the best thing for the congressman's district or for the state or country."

For now the legislation does not seem to be going too far. It only has 30 Republican co-sponsors. Its last movement was to the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment for consideration.

According to GovTrack.us, a website that compiles data and tracks the U.S. Congress, the "Discouraging Frivolous Lawsuits" legislation that Rice has written only has a 3 percent chance of being enacted.

Read Rice's proposed bill below:

Copyright 2016 WMBF News. All rights reserved.

  • Local NewsLocalMore>>

  • One killed in single vehicle accident Saturday night in Pawleys Island

    One killed in single vehicle accident Saturday night in Pawleys Island

    Sunday, February 18 2018 9:11 AM EST2018-02-18 14:11:28 GMT
    (Source: Raycom Media)(Source: Raycom Media)

    One person was killed after a single-vehicle accident in Pawleys Island Saturday night , according to South Carolina Highway Patrol. The accident happened around 7:00 Saturday night on Martin Luther King Road. 

    More >>

    One person was killed after a single-vehicle accident in Pawleys Island Saturday night , according to South Carolina Highway Patrol. The accident happened around 7:00 Saturday night on Martin Luther King Road. 

    More >>
  • BCSO searching for suspect who robbed gas station

    BCSO searching for suspect who robbed gas station

    Saturday, February 17 2018 9:46 PM EST2018-02-18 02:46:19 GMT
    (Source: BCSO)(Source: BCSO)
    BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WMBF) – Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office is looking to identify a suspect who robbed a BP gas station Saturday night, according to a release. The suspect robbed the gas station at 5053 Southport-Supply Road in Southport around 8:30 Saturday night. The suspect is described as a white male, approximately 6’0” tall, wearing a short sleeve, dark blue t-shirt, tan pants, and a camouflage beanie. He also has a beard or facial hair.  No ...More >>
    BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WMBF) – Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office is looking to identify a suspect who robbed a BP gas station Saturday night, according to a release. The suspect robbed the gas station at 5053 Southport-Supply Road in Southport around 8:30 Saturday night. The suspect is described as a white male, approximately 6’0” tall, wearing a short sleeve, dark blue t-shirt, tan pants, and a camouflage beanie. He also has a beard or facial hair.  No ...More >>
  • CCU holds vigil to honor Florida shooting victims

    CCU holds vigil to honor Florida shooting victims

    Saturday, February 17 2018 9:39 PM EST2018-02-18 02:39:52 GMT
    CCU student light candles and pray (Source WMBF News)CCU student light candles and pray (Source WMBF News)

    Educators of the future are taking a stand, following a vigil held on the camps of Coastal Carolina University honoring the 17 lives lost in a Florida shooting. CCU students Tyler Bealmear and Kaycelyn Laymon have a love and passion for children and education, their hearts broken by the tragedy, but each refusing to let situations like these continue. 

    More >>

    Educators of the future are taking a stand, following a vigil held on the camps of Coastal Carolina University honoring the 17 lives lost in a Florida shooting. CCU students Tyler Bealmear and Kaycelyn Laymon have a love and passion for children and education, their hearts broken by the tragedy, but each refusing to let situations like these continue. 

    More >>
Powered by Frankly