The Northern Beltline will create thousands of construction jobs and drive economic growth throughout Birmingham and surrounding communities. However, activist lawyers at the Southern Environmental Law Center are trying to block construction of the Beltline.
The Southern Environmental Law Center and their client, Black Warrior Riverkeeper, claim their objection to the project is about the environment. The truth is that they simply want to stop new growth. The Northern Beltline is just one in a long list of projects targeted by this group. Over the past 5 years, the Southern Environmental Law Center has actively opposed 13 road and highway projects in 5 states. It is important for the people of Birmingham to know that the SELC has made a practice of blocking new job-creating projects, regardless of whether they can prove any environmental harm.
As if blocking jobs were not bad enough, the SELC is trying to force taxpayers to fund their obstruction efforts. According to federal court records, they have asked as part of their lawsuit to receive both attorney fees and expenses. In other words, if they block the Beltline, they get paid. While Birmingham is trying to build a stronger economy, these groups only seem interested in blocking jobs and stopping new growth.
“Our message to the SELC and Black Warrior Riverkeeper is simple,” JobKeeper Executive Director Patrick Cagle said. “Drop your lawsuit and stop blocking the jobs and economic growth our region needs.”
A number of Birmingham-area business leaders also weighed in on the Northern Beltline project, as well as the legal opposition to it.
“The Northern Beltline has been the #1 priority of the Birmingham Business Alliance for years because of the jobs and economic development opportunities it will help create for our region,“ remarked Brian Hilson, President and CEO of Birmingham Business Alliance.
“I applaud the efforts of the JobKeeper Alliance in bringing to light those organizations blocking job creation at a critical time when economic growth is vitally needed in our state,” added Mike Thompson, Chairman of the Coalition for Regional Transportation. “We need this Beltline and the economic impact it will bring to our communities. Mostly, we need jobs for the people in these communities, and we need them now.”