Sheheen: DHEC port compromise a costly blunder

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP, WACH) -- The board overseeing South Carolina's environmental agency has approved a compromise with the Army Corps of Engineers over a permit to dredge the Savannah River.

The agency's board voted unanimously Thursday to accept the agreement, putting Georgia and the federal government a step closer to deepening 35 miles between the Atlantic Ocean and the port of Savannah, Ga.

DHEC staff denied the Corps' water permit request in September. The agreement was reached minutes before an appeal before the board.

It includes Georgia's promise to pay for upkeep on devices the Corps will install to inject oxygen into the river, and agreeing to preserve an additional 1,500 acres of marsh.

Patrick Moore with the Coastal Conservation League says his group will appeal the decision to the state's Administrative Law Court.

State Senator Vincent Sheheen of Camden is not happy with the board's decision. He issued this statement on the issue:

"Today TMs decision by the DHEC board is a disaster for our state TMs environment and our future economic growth. Selling out on protection of our sensitive natural habitats and our own economy is a blunder that will cost us dearly in jobs and natural resources. The DHEC Board members should resign immediately and Governor Haley should replace them with knowledgeable individuals who will represent the best interest of South Carolina and who are not campaign contributors to Haley. I am further requesting that state Senate President Pro Tem Glenn McConnell convene an investigatory committee to review whether or not the DHEC board was improperly influenced. I am also calling on Governor Haley to disclose immediately all contributions, if any, she received from persons or corporations residing in the state of Georgia during the last six months.

Senator Sheheen lost the race for governor of South Carolina to then Representative Nikki Haley in November 2010.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)