Column I: Cindi Scoppe puts Georgia port dredging issue into perspective

Today, I think I’ll use some columns I read in the papers this morning as conversation-starters. We’ll begin with Cindi Scoppe’s balanced, thoughtful approach to DHEC’s granting of a dredging permit to Georgia.

As is her wont, she skewers weak arguments on all sides:

  • To those who ask, “Did Gov. Haley pressure her appointees to the DHEC board to approve the permit?,” she explains that it doesn’t matter. The governor says she fully supports the decision. She takes ownership of it. It doesn’t matter whether she pressured anyone. And what pressure can she exert? She appointed these people, but she lacks power to remove them. Who cares? She appointed them, she in no way distances herself from the decision.
  • Then there’s this red herring: “Why did the DHEC commissioners put Georgia’s economic interests above the economic interests of the state of South Carolina?” It’s not DHEC’s job to decide on the basis of economic interests. It’s their job to protect the environment, which is a separate question.

Here’s the question Cindi urges lawmakers to concentrate on: Did the Corps of Engineers and Georgia grant enough concessions to meet our state’s environmental requirements?

She continues with a discussion of various aspects of that consideration.

Then, in the end, she offers this bit of simple clarity:

We probably wouldn’t have to worry so much about cozying up to our competitors if our own Sen. Jim DeMint hadn’t helped put the Port of Charleston even further behind the Savannah Port, by delaying efforts to dredge Charleston Harbor. But the sad truth is that he has done far more to damage the Port of Charleston than anything DHEC could ever do. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be much the Legislature can do about that.

All around, a good, solid column on a difficult issue.

6 thoughts on “Column I: Cindi Scoppe puts Georgia port dredging issue into perspective

  1. bud

    Good ole Jim DeMint. He’s done an astounding amount of damage to our state and nation yet he commands the support of millions. He’s sort of like the “bad boy” I referenced in another post.

  2. Lynn T

    They aren’t “concessions.” They are environmental mitigation measures that would be required under federal law and regulation, with or without Nikki Haley and the DHEC Board. The question is indeed whether they are adequate, and why DNR was not asked to comment. I don’t think there is much point in asking if DHEC staff was pressured, — that is so normal for DHEC that the staff probably wouldn’t know what it felt like to live at sea level.

  3. Steven Davis

    @bud – and ol’ Lindsey is the weird guy down the hall hoping someone will invite him to play boardgames on Saturday nights…

  4. Juan Caruso

    The too often neglected good (reported by CBS News):

    The executive director of the Georgia Ports Authority said Savannah’s project would mean jobs for the entire region. Curtis Foltz said >>>>> 800 South Carolina companies import products through the port, and >>>>> 400 companies in the state export. >>>>>Forty percent of Savannah’s port workers live in South Carolina.

    “This is a river that brings us together not divides us,” he said. “This region needs two successful ports.”

    Foltz contends the Savannah project will aid a proposed joint port nearby in Jasper County,>>>>> one of South Carolina’s poorest counties. Sediment taken out of the river >>>>> would shave $300 million off the cost of the fill needed for Jasper’s port that would have immediate access to the deep river, said Col. Jeffrey Hall, commander of the Army Corps’ Savannah district.

    Not sure why none of the above seemed to have been included in Cindi Scoppe’s “Cindi Scoppe’s balanced, thoughtful” editorial, but then some of us do not automatically worship lawyers and editors.

  5. Mark Stewart

    I think Cindi missed it on this one; or more correctly, got it half right.

    Using DHEC as a political pawn in interstate economic affairs is an unfortunate thing either way.

    What troubles me more is the lack of understanding too many in the state of South Carolina seem to have about the overall value to the state of Charleston’s harbor. We can keep playing small ball – the defensive game of keep away – in reaction to Georgia’s push to expand Savannah’s upriver port. Or we can find the leadership, and the common cause, to both articulate and advocate for a world class port infrastructure here in our own state in the best harbor south of the Chesapeake Bay.

    What holds Charleston back as an international trade gateway is not the harbor itself; it is the political fragmentation and lack of committed coordination to address the landside issues. This is an internal state political issue and the ball here has continually been dropped time and time again. DeMint’s intransigence wouldn’t even arise as a hurdle if the various political entities with a stake in the port’s success made common cause to make the changes necessary to propel the port into the 21st century and beyond.

    This is the true failure of leadership on the issue. This DHEC brouhaha is just what happens when everyone takes their eye off the ball and loses sight of what is really of critical importance.


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