HB 445 aka "The Shore Destruction Bill" Has Strong Opposition:
Letters to the Editor In The Brunswick News
March 25, 2019
Senate should reject SPA bill
The fact that influential private interests can shape state legislation should come as no surprise, but ‘taking the cake’ in this regard are the revelations in Saturday’s Brunswick News article showing that the Sea Island Company, working behind the scenes with lobbyists and state officials, is the source of a provision in House Bill 445 that grants the company an exemption from the Shore Protection Act (SPA) for a large oceanfront tract on Sea Island slated for development. Adding insult to injury, HB 445 essentially rewards the Sea Island Company for disrupting the sand-sharing system the SPA was enacted to conserve. The culprit in this regard is a sand-hoarding “groin” built along the area to be developed. Sand that would normally flow from Sea Island toward St. Simons Island and Jekyll Island will be trapped by the groin for the purpose of fattening the beach in front of the multi-million dollar lots to be sold by the company. So, a bill already loaded with problems, including an ill-advised reduction of the SPA’s jurisdiction along the vast majority of Georgia’s coast, has now become toxic to the public interest. Needed now is a tabling of the bill and a firm commitment to update the SPA on the basis of relevant science. If that does not happen, the bill, which clearly undermines protection of the very resource the SPA was intended to preserve, should be rejected if it comes to the Senate floor for a vote.
Initiative to Protect Jekyll Island
HB 445 isn't the revision the SPA needs
The Shore Protection Act (SPA) needs revision. On that point, we agree with the Georgia DNR. However, the current proposal to amend the SPA is not the right way to go about it. HB 445 is not much different from HB 271, which was tabled in 2017 because it failed to improve the law by employing the scientific knowledge gained from a DNR funded study on sea level rise and coastal erosion rates. There is one glaring difference — a paragraph exempting Sea Island from SPA regulations. This suspicious insertion prompted the Center for a Sustainable Coast to submit an “open records” request to learn from where it originated and how the DNR ended up defending such flawed legislation.
Thanks to Georgia’s open records law and DNR staff’s compliance with it, we received hundreds of pages of email and other documentation about the nefarious behind-the-scenes activities which brought about the “Sea Island carve out.” Due to the prompt analysis of these documents by Brunswick News reporter, Wes Wolfe, the public has received timely notice that Sea Island Company used their political clout — manipulated by former public officials who are now lavishly paid as lobbyists — to create unfair and unprecedented exemptions for Sea Island property.
Georgians must not allow special interests to get profitable favors that undermine environmental law at the public’s expense. Please call your senators and tell them to vote no on HB445 or to table it, subject to legitimate public review.
Center for a Sustainable Coast
Article shows HB 445 needs to be thrown out
After once again reading Wes Wolfe’s headline article about HB 445 and the Sea Island Company, I felt compelled to write again and thank Mr. Wolfe and whomever assisted him in putting together this hard hitting and extremely important article. One would hope that the facts in the article would foster massive indignation not only in St. Simons and Jekyll Island — who are having their drift sand stolen by the Sea Island Company, but by people all over the State of Georgia who have sat silent as the abuse of legislative process has put the entire Georgia coastline at risk. Of even more importance (sad but true), this article puts a spotlight on a process that allows a single company to write and submit HB’s that are voted and passed in weeks without public input or due consideration. Truly “the fix was in.” I would hope that the Chairman of the Senate Rules Committee tables H.B. 445 indefinitely, the elected officials responsible get thrown out of office and Georgians of every political color thank Wes Wolfe and demand — in writing- that HB445 gets thrown on the trash pile of history.
Call to voice your disproval of the new SPA bill
As usual, The Brunswick News and Wes Wolfe deliver more than just the newspaper. Included are the seldom revealed facts that constitute the frightening cloak of deception that empowers entities such as the Sea Island Company to aggrandize themselves at our expense and to the detriment of the environment. It comes as no surprise that The SIC is aided and abetted by a rogue’s gallery of local ex-politicos operating out of Atlanta. Those who care about “our coast” are well versed on the dynamics of the sand sharing system, its length, breadth and historic impact. This is not intended to be an educational discourse.
I am incensed and insulted by the cavalier manner in which the guardians of our coast have been shoved into the gutter like some excrement that needs disposal. Being treated like folks that “ain’t smart enough” to understand what’s really going on.
It is incumbent upon every one of us, in a last-ditch effort to head off environmental disaster by contacting the most critical senators on the Rules Committee — chair Jeff Mullis, 404-656-0057; vice chair Jack Hill, 404-656-5038; Bill Cowsert, 404-463-1365; and Steve Henson, 404-656-0058.
Your call is important. Please join me and call today, don’t leave it up to your neighbor. Every call counts.