An attempt to bypass S.C. objections to Savannah port dredging

Russ Bynum of the Associated Press reports that the U.S. Corps of Engineers is attempting to neutralize South Carolina opposition to the dredging of the Port of Savannah:

SAVANNAH, Ga.— The federal agency seeking to deepen the Savannah harbor sent letters to Vice President Joe Biden, House Speaker John Boehner and eight other Washington lawmakers saying the $652 million project should be allowed to bypass environmental review by South Carolina, which shares the Savannah River with Georgia.

The letters from the Army Corps of Engineers were disclosed in filings Thursday in U.S. District Court. The Corps wants to deepen more than 30 miles of the river from 42 feet to 47 feet to give supersized cargo ships room to reach the Port of Savannah.

The federal government gave final approval to the project in October and the Corps wants to begin construction in 2013. However, the federal Clean Water Act typically requires environmental permits from affected states.

Georgia granted one last year, but efforts to obtain approval in South Carolina are tied up in state and federal courts. In some cases, the law allows the Corps to bypass state permitting for projects specifically authorized by Congress that have undergone appropriate environmental studies.

Jo-Ellen Darcy, assistant Army secretary for civil works, said in the letters to 10 House and Senate leaders — including Biden in his capacity as the Senate’s presiding officer — that the Savannah harbor deepening qualifies for such an exemption because Congress conditionally authorized the project in 1999. Darcy said an exemption is needed “in order to prevent inappropriate delays to this project due to pending litigation.”

Her letters urged that Congress should consent to the exemption by going ahead and funding construction. A federal judge presiding over one of the South Carolina lawsuits had ordered the Corps to disclose the correspondence.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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16 comments Add your comment

Marlboro Man

November 15th, 2012
6:22 pm

Follow the procedure, that why they are there. SC is doing the same politicking so that’s nothing new.


November 15th, 2012
6:35 pm

South Carolina has more coastline and wants less competition?


November 15th, 2012
6:52 pm

The environmental impact on South Carolina’s topographical culture makes dredging impossible. Nature made the seabeds where they are, and to tweek mother nature’s nose here, (actually this is more like a teety twister), where a hurricane is likely to strike, would later cost the same insurance companies who want to dredge more than they could possibly gain from dredging. Vote no on pinching and twisting you know who’s you know what.


November 15th, 2012
8:08 pm

No no no. Georgia is rife with secessionists, and a government of mealy tinpots who get elected because they stand and shake their fist at the federal government.

If the state of Georgia wants the port dredged, we should pay for it ourselves. Stop asking the rest of the country to subsidize us.


November 15th, 2012
8:32 pm

The port project is of enormous economic importance. SC’s opposition is not based on environmental considerations. The are merely exploiting environmental issues as a pretext for fighting economic competition. This is clearly a case for waiver.

Buford T Justice

November 15th, 2012
8:52 pm

Cherokee and Bubba: Y’all are both right. Is this an example of practicality outweighing principle?


November 15th, 2012
9:07 pm

Georgia and Tennessee have more of a chance of resolving the dredging of Savanah, than do Georgia and South Carolina. These marshes are the only thing between us and annihilation in the next inevitable hurricane. Georgia can keep their international interests and the Sherman they rode in on. Lincoln premiers tomorrow. Must see Movie.


November 15th, 2012
11:00 pm

I smell a sonny rat in the mix…Play by the rules..

Laws were passed to protect the environment.


November 15th, 2012
11:02 pm

O’Reilly and Romney were right. This country has become a bunch of people that like free stuff and gifts. Case in point. #Youdidn’tbuildthat

Personally, I believe government can do things that spur economic growth and be an overall benefit to society.

David Granger

November 15th, 2012
11:12 pm

Environmental impact my ass…SC just wants to keep Savannah from being able to compete with Charleston.

Buckhead Boy

November 16th, 2012
4:28 am

How inconvenient to be reminded that Georgia is a dependent state amid all the talk of “redistribution of wealth” and “I built it myself”. Were it not for seventy-five years of “redistribution of wealth” from the donor states, Georgia today would look much as it did in 1935; and a good many of the “I built it myself” deluded would still be share-cropping along a dirt road and waiting for electricity.


November 16th, 2012
4:54 am

Georgia needs to work with jointly SC to develop the Port Jasper Concept,not to futher dredge and ruin the Sav.River for 22 miles. One reason the water quality at our beautiful Tybee Island Beach is so poor is that the constant prop.wash of the container ships is eroding the Sav.’s banks futher and washing into Tybee Sound ! Stop the Dredge! Move the Containers to Jasper!


November 16th, 2012
8:46 am

South Carolina wants to drege Charleston harbor as well. I guess dredging up there doesnt hurt the environment at all. They are pulling the “environmental card” to stop the growth of the Savannah port which is the second largest port on the east coast behind NY/NJ.


November 16th, 2012
9:17 am

Sick and tired of these other states telling GA what to do, Screw FL<AL< TN< and SC.


November 16th, 2012
9:34 am

Dredge our half of the river. The State border is roughly the middle of the river … dredge the GA side. It would make quite a statement (and cost half as much). The heavier full ships float in the deeper half and lighter ones float on the un-dredged side. I know it’s a silly idea, but it’ll light a fire under SC’s butt on the issue.
And by the way … it’s South Carolina! Who cares? The only thing they have on us is I-95 and a few miles of I-85. We’ll go around.


November 16th, 2012
9:56 am

Living here in Georgia, I realize this State expects to have a port and city outmatching Charleston, but be honest – Charleston is a deep water harbor two miles from the open ocean and the harbor is over a mile and half wide. It is currently 45 ft deep and wants to dredge to 50 ft. Large ships already come into Charleston at high tide, so dredging will allow these same ships 24/7 access to the port. Cost will be $350M, with minimum environmental impact.

Savannah is over 16 miles from open ocean and is built on a narrow river, already near depletion of oxygen. It is 42 ft deep and wants to dredge to 47 ft. Traffic flow of the narrow river for the ships is one way. Even at this depth, the ships will have to wait for high tides to enter/exit. Cost is $650M, over $300M than for Charleston allowing access 24/7.

This issue between Charleston and Georgia started way before the Savannah issue. Back in the 1960’s and 1970’s, Charleston had the third largest naval base and the world’s largest sub base. In early 1976, Spain stopped allowing us to forward deploy our subs from Charleston to their harbor in Rota. One week after Carter was elected in 1976, he had the Navy announce the “forward” deployed base would be at Kings Bay, a vacant outpost. In 1979, before Carter lost the election, he had the Navy announce the homeporting of the new Ohio class SSBN subs to be at Kings Bay instead of the largest sub base at Charleston, at a cost of $1.5B (today’s cost of $6.5B). Meanwhile in the Pacific, the navy simply upgraded the sub base in Washington state for the new SSBN’s. So for the next 10 years, the navy, under the watchful eye of Sam Nunn re-built everything located in Charleston to Kings Bay. Kings bay is much like Savannah – a narrow inlet only able to accomodate a few ships. Charleston, being a natural harbor can and has accomodated ships of all sizes, including over 60 subs and surface ships for the Navy.

Georgia and its politicians will use any excuse to pillage Charleston (SC)