Gov. Nikki Haley has defended the decision by the DHEC board to allow Georgia to dredge the river in order to improve its port in Savannah. She asserts that the Port of Charleston will still be deeper and offer more to larger ships coming from the Panama Canal.
House leaders say the decision first must go to the state’s Savannah River Maritime Commission, which is charged with oversight of “navigability, depth, dredging, sludge disposal and other collateral issues in regard to the Savannah River.” Charleston Republican Jim Merrill serves on that commission, which is mainly made up of legislative appointees.
AUDIO: Merrill says the dredging plan had plenty of opposition.
AUDIO: Rep. Leon Stavrinakis (D-Charleston) says this is an environmental issue that needs another look.
House Speaker Bobby Harrell (R-Charleston) issued a statement in support of this measure: “Based solely on the merits of this case, DHEC was correct to deny this permit. But given the Board’s sudden reversal, the intentional bypassing of the Maritime Commission and state law, the irrefutable environmental damage and the uncompetitive disadvantage to our ports; this was a terrible decision by the DHEC Board.”