A recent media report shows that San Francisco-based environmental interests are funneling millions to the very Alabama anti-growth groups that are fighting the Northern Beltline and the much needed jobs and access for the Birmingham region that the Beltline would provide.
Using data made publicly available by the Energy Foundation, here’s a quick snapshot of how much money environmental groups participating in the Alabama Public Service Commission hearings received, and what the funds were earmarked for:
- Alabama Arise: $50,000 during the Alabama PSC hearings “to advance clean energy policies in Alabama.”
- Alabama Environmental Council (AEC): $107,000 “to increase capacity and stakeholder engagement on clean energy issues in Alabama,” including $62,000 during the Alabama PSC hearings.
- Alabama Rivers Alliance: $40,000 matching grant during the Alabama PSC hearings “to accelerate the retirement of coal-fired power plants in Alabama.”
- Greater Birmingham Alliance to Stop Air Pollution (GASP): $70,000, including a $20,000 matching grant “to accelerate the retirement of coal-fired power plants in Alabama” and $50,000 “to increase capacity and support for clean air policies in Alabama.”
- Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE): $810,000 for a wide variety of climate-related issues in the southeast, including $60,000 during the Alabama PSC hearings “to accelerate retirement of coal-fired power plants.”
- Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC): $1.8 Million, including $60,000 during the PSC hearings “to accelerate retirement of coal-fired power plants in the Southeast.”
In Case You Missed It: The same anti-growth groups opposing the Northern Beltline, and the economic development that it would bring to the Birmingham region, are bringing nearly identical law suits and claims across the nation. Here is a story coming out of Virginia where their lawsuit looks almost identical to the one they filed here.
Two environmental groups are calling for “careful reconsideration” of the potential impacts of a new Route 460.
In a joint submission to the Federal Highway Administration and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Southern Environmental Law Center and Chesapeake Bay Foundation say they support the decision to prepare a supplemental environmental impact statement “in light of major new information concerning … serious environmental impacts.”
Federal Court Rules Against Black Warrior Riverkeeper Request for Preliminary Injunction to Block Construction of the Northern Beltline
BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA – This afternoon the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama Northern Division ruled against the Black Warrior Riverkeeper (BWR) in BWR’s request for a preliminary injunction to block the start of construction for the Northern Beltline.
The BWR had requested the injunction, claiming that the start of construction on a 1.8 mile segment of the Northern Beltline joining State Roads 79 and 75 violated the National Environmental Policy Act requirements and that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (CORPS) should have conducted an Environmental Impact Study for the entire 50.1 mile Northern Beltline project instead of only the first segment.
BWR sought the preliminary injunction against the Alabama Department of Transportation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Renee Carter, executive director of the Coalition for Regional Transportation, said, “This very strong order of the federal court reflects exactly what we have been saying about the need for the Northern Beltline for the past several years – that it is a necessary and justifiable transportation project that will tremendously benefit the people of this area. We are both very pleased and gratified by the court’s order.”Read more
Any problem that ensues on the interstate system in Birmingham today has a pretty good chance of rapidly deteriorating into major traffic jams. Because we don’t yet have the Northern Beltline, east-west travelers passing through Birmingham have little option but to use the I-20/59 corridor through downtown, vastly magnifying any traffic issues that occur.
John Cooper writes, in an Op-Ed for AL.COM:
Look at what happened when I-20 East was recently closed for rebuilding. During peak travel periods, traffic from downtown Birmingham to the interchange between I-20/59 and I-459 was gridlocked. I know this because I was stuck there with you. And, as we inched along together, I noticed the line in front of me was dominated by large trucks. Knowing how information travels quickly among truckers, I couldn’t help but wonder why they were in this situation. Why did they not go another route?
Again, the answer is simple: there is no other route.
With Alabama’s legislature finding ways to balance the state’s budget, projects like the Northern Beltline that invest in the region’s economic development and create opportunities are the obvious solution to moving Alabama forward.
Jay Reed writes:
Alabama’s commercial construction industry is a vital and significant component of the economy and impacts more than half of our state’s employment. A study recently conducted by the Associated Builders and Contractors of Alabama found that commercial construction and the industries that feed it stimulated $9.349 billion of business in our state, and generated 150,000 full-time jobs in 2010 alone.