Nikki Haley vetoes S.C. bill to block dredging of Port of Savannah

Gov. Nikki Haley has become quite popular. In Georgia, anyway. From the Associated Press:

COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley on Monday vetoed a bill that lawmakers had passed unanimously in their efforts to undo a permit allowing Georgia to expand its Savannah port.

The measure would retroactively suspend the Department of Health and Environment Control’s ability to make dredging decisions in the river shared with Georgia. Legislators hoped it would strengthen their case in court and supporters of the measure expected the veto to be overridden.

The action “amounts to unconstitutional legislative overreaching into an agency’s ruling,” Haley wrote in her four-paragraph veto message. Additionally, she wrote, it “reflects a fundamental misunderstanding about the administrative process.”

She writes that only DHEC can issue the water quality certifications and notes a 2010 opinion from former Attorney General Henry McMaster. Such opinions don’t carry the weight of law.

The Republican governor has come under fire for asking the DHEC board she appointed to hear Georgia’s appeal last fall, after staff initially denied the water quality certification. Minutes before the appeal, the agency reached a settlement with the Georgia Ports Authority and Army Corps of Engineers.

“When you pick up the phone and try to circumvent DHEC’s original ruling is really where the problem occurred,” said Rep. Jim Merrill, the measure’s main sponsor, in response to the misunderstanding comment.

Legislators complain DHEC’s decision grants an unfair competitive advantage to a rival port over Charleston, which is also racing to deepen its harbor to accommodate mega-size ships that could regularly call after the Panama Canal is widened in 2014. Those ships are currently limited in Charleston to a two-hour tidal window.

Legislators also complain the permit kills plans for a port in Jasper County, miles closer to the Atlantic Ocean, that’s supposed to be a 50-50 project with Georgia.

The issue puts on the same side Republican legislators and environmentalists, who argue the project will deplete dissolved oxygen in the already impaired river, destroying habitat of endangered fish and hundreds of acres of fragile freshwater marsh.

The joint resolution suspends DHEC’s authority as of 2007. That’s when legislators created the Savannah River Maritime Commission and gave it authority to represent South Carolina on navigability issues in the river. The commission was not consulted about the settlement.

Merrill, R-Charleston, expects the veto to be easily overridden.

“Why the governor persists in being the sole person in the state of South Carolina who is intent on helping Georgia gain an advantage over South Carolina is baffling,” he said.

Current Attorney General Alan Wilson is representing the Savannah River Maritime Commission in its challenge. His spokesman, Mark Plowden, has said the joint resolution should help arguments in court that the commission has permitting authority. The Southern Environmental Law Center is also appealing.

A joint resolution has the same force as law, and must go through the same approval process, but is a temporary measure that dies when the issue’s over. If Haley hadn’t signed or vetoed it by Tuesday, it would have taken effect without her signature.

Her veto message points out that the language in the measure’s final paragraph references a “construction in navigable waters permit,” rather than the “401 water quality certification” in question. Saying the resolution only seeks to undo the former, Haley says the measure has no practical effect anyway because it attempts to reverse a permit that wasn’t issued.

However, while that paragraph specifically refers to the navigable waters permit, it also broadly suspends all post- 2007 decisions “related to all matters pertaining to the navigability, depth, dredging, wastewater and sludge disposal” and other issues involving the Savannah River and ocean-going container ships. Also, the set-up to that paragraph — which provides a timeline and explains legislators’ intent when they passed the 2007 law — does mention the water quality certification.

“The governor is looking for an out when she should be looking for an opportunity to join in with us on the fight to protect South Carolina’s environment and economy,” said House Speaker Bobby Harrell, R-Charleston. “The governor is trying to focus on what’s not in the bill, because she doesn’t want to talk about what is in the bill she vetoed. … The vetoed bill directly states that DHEC did not have the authority to unilaterally approve this dredging permit.”

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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77 comments Add your comment


February 27th, 2012
7:39 pm

She did the right thing instead of dirty politics.


And will get little credit from the media since she is of the wrong party as far as the media is concerned.


February 27th, 2012
7:57 pm

Nikki Haley is my favorite governor. She’s supporting the Savannah Port because the Koch brothers (owners of Georgia Pacific) have promised her a big payoff in the future. But I don’t care why. as long as she keeps screwing over SC and helping Georgia I love her. Go Nikki !


February 27th, 2012
8:05 pm

Nikki may be pals with Sonny.


February 27th, 2012
8:15 pm

Enter your comments here

marshall tucker

February 27th, 2012
8:21 pm

Lop off that “dangling appendage” of Jasper County opposite Savannah to start a Yamacraw County, S.C. Then we’ll talk.


February 27th, 2012
8:28 pm

How dare the legislature take into account the law and the will of the people.

This woman has been anointed and insists on being treated as such.

Don’t they know who is financing her?


February 27th, 2012
8:30 pm


How is ignoring the DEHC, the House, the Senate and numerous Federal officials ‘the right thing’?


February 27th, 2012
9:07 pm

SC trying to stop our port about “environmental issues” is as laughable as Alabama & FL “concerned” about having enough downstream water from the Chattahoochee….. It is called trying to stop economic growth in Georgia to promote it in SC, AL & FL they just try to label it “environmentalism”.

Thank the Lord these yahoos weren’t around as American built it’s base infrastructure and industry or we would be modern day Afghanistan.

And on the Koch Brothers. I was in NYC last weekend at the American Museum of Natural History. I saw that David Koch had sponsored a wing. I was so offended I immediately asked for money back and got the heck out of that traitorous city. How dare they take legal money from a private citizen whose crime is supporting freedom and liberty, employs thousands of Americans and pays millions in taxes – the callousness of it all…

Lourdes Whipperwill

February 27th, 2012
9:09 pm

In the end the vetoes u make are equal to the vetoes u make

the lesser Carolina

February 27th, 2012
9:10 pm

once a joke, always a joke


February 27th, 2012
9:11 pm

South Carolina should detach from the mainland and float out to Bermuda. What a worthless backward state. So petty and so selfish.

Smorgas Bourgason

February 27th, 2012
9:12 pm


I’m sure David enjoys the hummer you just gave him.


February 27th, 2012
9:16 pm

Trying to say “project will deplete dissolved oxygen in the already impaired river, destroying habitat of endangered fish and hundreds of acres of fragile freshwater marsh” is easily seen as a bogus excuse.
It is obvious the SC legislature is just trying to hog all the port business.


February 27th, 2012
9:19 pm

Voters in Georgia should note that our Senator Isakson supported the Charleston, SC port increased access, while now South Carolina is trying to eliminate our port’s increase. Thanks so much Johnny! You appear to be either stupid or representing the wrong state.

Sara Barracuda

February 27th, 2012
9:27 pm

dredge here, dredge now. god willin’


February 27th, 2012
9:37 pm

Centrist, you are exhaustingly single minded.


February 27th, 2012
9:46 pm

Nikki is a moron, but as long as she is screwing over her own state… who cares?! Go Savannah!

Tom Selleck

February 27th, 2012
9:50 pm

Nikki’s moustache is a work of art.

Kococo Brothar

February 27th, 2012
10:06 pm

dabo means just pure dumb. Wider port means mo money for Ga regardless of Koch, or any other brothers. The problem with people like you, you hate Koch and others like them because they have wealth you will never have because of your mental incapacity and disfunction. If this mentality were to reside in Authur Blank and Bernie Marcus, Home Depot would never have been created. Ford would have said what the heck build a car in a plant, no way. Obama has ruined the mindset of the US with his class warfare rhetoric and hate the evil rich. Poor people don’t invest in plants, machines, etc to create jobs, rich people do and they expect a return on their investment just like you want money from your savings account. Nobody is screwing over anybody except if you read the article it appears the SC legislators wanted their port of Charleston to be drugged deeper for their interest and used dirty politics to block Savannah’s port expansion.


February 27th, 2012
10:11 pm

The koch brother’s daddy is the father of lies….


February 27th, 2012
10:18 pm

Two useless Southern states fighting it out for the bottom rung, priceless

vudu I

February 27th, 2012
10:23 pm

my child is useless


February 27th, 2012
10:25 pm

keep your sinful christian hands off my uterus


February 27th, 2012
10:35 pm

The Koch brothers have been selling chemicals to Iran for years, against U.S. Policy dealing with Iran. I believe that is a criminal offence, why haven’t the Koch’s been brought up on charges? God, Guns and Greed is alive and well in SC, home to the religious wackos, and even wackier politicians.


February 27th, 2012
10:42 pm

Fresh water most important.Ga has a chance to buy another area for port.


February 27th, 2012
10:47 pm

Sorry Atlantan but a lot of downstream Georgians are in Alabama and Floridas court on the Hooch flow.


February 27th, 2012
11:03 pm

@Gary it seems only Atlantans were forced to cut back on water use in the most recent drought…. The folks across the river didn’t.


February 27th, 2012
11:10 pm

Short sighted and childish SC politicians is hurting SC economy in a long run. Wake up!


February 27th, 2012
11:28 pm

Atlantan (but apparently only representative of one),

The idea is that we ALL cut back on water use (or have you found some nifty bible verses that decree we should all water 2 acres of zoysia?).

The stupid port expansion will COST all of us and BENEFIT a very tiny few.
Does this seem to be the best use of tax dollars when we are laying off teachers and police officers?


February 28th, 2012
1:30 am

And you wonder why the federal government is necessary? Some businesses would never exist due to the constant fighting between the states. Let both of them have a port and may the best port win.


February 28th, 2012
5:13 am

nikki’s a handsome man.


February 28th, 2012
6:20 am

South Carolina should detach from the mainland and float out to Bermuda. What a worthless backward state. So petty and so selfish.

Dave, GA is right there with SC. The two battle of the 49th and 50th positions as the most ignorant states, and the two will likely be newt’s only wins- has to be a correlation.


February 28th, 2012
6:45 am

@honested, are you as dumb as you sound? This change in the way things are shipped through the Panama Canal is the most significant thing to affect our lives since Walmart created the on time delivery of goods. Without our ability to compete by being able to accept these massive container ships in our port we will lose billions of dollars in revenue and jobs that will grow up around the port to support the trucks coming in and out to pick up the containers. I don’t know if you get out much, but the jobs that will come from this is badly needed, especially in that part of the state. Truckers, storage facilities, fueling stations, restaurants, are immediate stimulants. The people that will work in those facilities will have money to spend instead of taking money from the taxpayers. They will buy “stuff” with that money they earn, they will pay taxes on that money they earn. Do you all want to live in the Dark Ages because you can’t bear change?

Mason Hicks

February 28th, 2012
7:31 am

Yes, DeborahinAthens, but those ships represent far more in jobs already lost. These ships are importing things back to us that used to be manufactured here, before “Walmart created the on time delivery of goods”… When these ships start leaving with more filled containers than they arrive with then it will be something to talk about…


February 28th, 2012
7:45 am

Kococo Brothar,

Yours is the blog post of the month as far as I’m concerned.

VERY well said!!


February 28th, 2012
7:46 am

Mason, the ships are coming either way. I suggest maybe we should have a better plan than holding our breath and pitching a fit about outsourcing.


February 28th, 2012
8:12 am

Clearly, we as people can no longer come together for the good of our country. Congress men and women are only looking out for themselves. And we as a people of this country are unable to move forward. And fail we surely will.


February 28th, 2012
8:29 am

Reading everyone’s comments is much more interesting than the actual article. However, it makes me realize that society should be tested prior to be given the right to vote.

I do agree that Niki has a beautiful moustache!


February 28th, 2012
8:34 am

@Kococo Brother I believe you mis-read my comment. I’m GLAD the Koch brothers paid off Haley to screw over SC. I live in Georgia and the Savannah port is a huge economic engine for jobs in this state. Talk to ANY republican in the SC legislature or read some of the great conservative and tea party blogs in SC. They know why Haley is doing this. I’m not a fan of the Koch brothers but on this issue I’m 100% behind them. Go Koch brothers go ! And Nikki…..Nikki….enjoy the VERY VERY lucrative job you will be offered after you leave the governor’s office.

Big Wheel

February 28th, 2012
8:34 am

Mason, check your facts brother, GA is one of the few ports that does export more volume than it imports. Here is the rub on this whole thing, the federal government recently did a study on all ports both existing and planned to see where they should spend federal money to accomodate the larger ships coming through the Panama Canal. That study clearly marked Savannah as a target port for deepening. Charleston was much less desireable per the criteria, mainly due to transportation issues. Now the SC law makers are trying everything they can to stop the Savannah progress.


February 28th, 2012
8:54 am

I live in Savannah and have friends that work at the port.There are scores of people working at the ports that live in South Carolina.The politicians in upstate S.C. seem to ignore that.

The port has been dredged before and no harm came to it.We have also raised the bridge coming into the port to allow the bigger ships access.

The port of Savannah has a massive economic impact not only in Savannah but in Ga.and beyond.

In the business world if you are not moving forward you are falling behind.


February 28th, 2012
8:55 am

The citizens of Georgia thank Gov Nikki Haley. Dumbas

Upstate isn't the problem

February 28th, 2012
9:07 am

Upstate is the only part of SC that is functioning. They have Michelin and BMW trying to get goods in and out ASAP.

Charleston is stuck in the 60’s…the 1860’s and Columbia is obsessed with stopping Georgia b/c of their own inferiority complex.


February 28th, 2012
9:08 am

It shouldn’t be state vs. state. It should be what is good for our country….Go Gov. Haley!


February 28th, 2012
9:18 am

It’s the right move for both States. Charlston will get theirs soon enough.


February 28th, 2012
9:22 am

Anytime a legislature tries to enact retroactive laws, the B.S. alarms should ring loudly and a white-hot spotlight should shine on its supporters.

One would think S.C. citizens benefit from jobs created at the Georgia Port. What’s the good book say about trying to tear down your neighbor? Don’t S.C. politicians pride themselves on Christian principles?


February 28th, 2012
9:36 am

SC realized they messed up putting that bimbo in office, especially after the decision to support dredging Savannah’s port will harm Charleston’s port in the future. She’s a giant flaming idiot because of this and several other decisions.


February 28th, 2012
9:41 am

Girl Power!!
Georgia needs to be made into another state-let’s merge with the fine people of SC.
Gas is cheaper. Their govt is not as corrupt


February 28th, 2012
9:43 am



February 28th, 2012
9:49 am

You mean a politician decided to take into account what’s best for the nation and not just for their immediate constituents? WOW! Amazing! Savannah is a more developed port and offers easier entrance and access. Its the one that needs to be dredged.