Savannah Harbor Expansion Project: the view from South Carolina

Take a look at Mary Mayle’s Portside column today in the SMN: “S.C. takes off gloves on harbor deepening”. I noted in a couple of columns recently that Georgia politicians and other supporters of harbor deepening had clearly failed in getting political support from our neighbor who shares the Savannah River. In recent weeks, supporters of the costly expansion, which will require several hundred million in federal funds, have gone out of their way to say that they want to see vibrant ports in Savannah, at the proposed Jasper, S.C. site, and in Charleston.

But such talk increasingly appears to be coming too late — although it is possible that the relatively-silent-up-to-now S.C. governor Nikki Haley could shift the politics of the issue.

So I spent some time looking for other information about views from S.C. Of obvious interest is “Georgia’s harbor depth at issue: Savannah needs hinge on South Carolina decision” from the Jan. 18th Charleston Post and Courier. The piece makes a much bigger deal of environmental concerns than have been made in Georgia, and notes that South Carolina might “recommend minor deepening or just maintenance on this project and a focus on the Jasper terminal.”

The smart writer at puts the competition between the two states in sharper terms: “Georgia Backstabs SC On Port Deal”. That’s well worth a read.

With South Carolina politicians actively working to kill the project, it’s hard to imagine that President Obama’s budget will include money for it, especially since there’s no political upside for Obama for 2012. Then funding would require an earmark, which raises even more political questions.