The Port of Charleston needs to be deepened to 50 feet in order to bring in larger ships from the Panama Canal, bringing more business to the port and state. South Carolina lawmakers and State Ports Authority officials continue to try and find ways to fund a study for the deepening since the Obama Administration announced it does not have enough funds for the project.
Congressman Tim Scott, whose district contains the port, says he wants to do anything he can to find the funding, but without federal earmarks.
The first thing I think is important is the definition of an earmark which is a back room deal under the cover of darkness. It’s simply not good for the American people. So, how we got to where we are is important, that we are where we are is more important.
The freshman congressman says the question now is “How do we move forward?” Scott says the answer is simple–
We have to make sure that we do two things and do them simultaneously. The first thing is to make sure we can take private sector dollars, and that the $400,000 that we raise in order to do the study does not obligate the state or private sector of having the responsibility to fund the $300 million. Second thing is to change the Corps of Engineer’s definition of how they work on projects, which are projects that are specifically funded, which falls under the category of earmarks.
Scott says when looking at the east coast, Charleston is a sure bet for newer and larger ships to do business.
We believe that without any question when you compare our port to other ports on the Eastern coast, there’s no question that we have the most cost-effective and the most responsive port to the needs not of just South Carolina, but to the needs of America. And, if we are going to continue to grow our exporting opportunities, our port on the eastern shore is incredibly important.
Scott says he believes it’s a bi-partisan effort to get the port deepening funded.
I think this is one area where you will see team South Carolina, both Republicans and Democrats, working together. I know my limitations are, I’m going to abide by my conscience, and abide by my pledge, but in the end we are all singing the same song, which is making sure that the port has the best opportunity to be funded.