Senator Larry Grooms (R-Berkeley) serves on the SC Maritime Commission and chairs the Senate Transportation Committee. He says, “We haven’t heard the last of this” regarding the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) approving Georgia’s plan to dredge the Savannah River and deepen the waters for a Savannah port.
“There are questions I want answered,” he says. “DHEC is the one that originally said “you are harming our environment, you cannot have a water quality permit. And at the last hour, they reversed themselves and said, here’s your permit, go ahead and pollute the river, everything’s fine.'”
The SC Senate Medical Affairs Committee has asked Gov. Nikki Haley and DHEC officials to appear at a Tuesday hearing to explain the sudden reversal. The governor will not attend, but will make statements on the issue at a press conference this afternoon.
“I believe that there will be a number of questions asked at the Medical Affairs Committee, as a starting point, ” Grooms insists. “And a state statute gives us (the Maritime Commission) the authority to work with DHEC on this. The statute says that all matters related to dredging and the navigability of the Savannah River belong squarely with the Savannah River Maritime Commission.”
Senate President Pro Tem Glenn McConnell says he is confused by DHEC’s actions too.
“I don’t see that kind of quick action for the general public and the businesses of South Carolina when they dig in on an environmental question. And it’s just interesting how fast they seemed to have reversed course on this particular thing,” he says.
Grooms also wants to know what Georgia is doing in return for South Carolina’s gesture of good will: “The governor did indicate that we should all work together on this. Well I think the state of Georgia should work on its permit but they don’t need to harm our shared resources.”
Some of those questions may be answered at a news conference called by the governor for 2:00 p.m. today.