Haley defends deal with Georgia on water quality

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WACH, AP) -- Gov. Nikki Haley says South Carolina struck a deal on merits with Georgia on water quality permits tied to that state's plans to expand port operations near Savannah. Haley also told reporters on Monday that a fundraiser in Georgia last month had no connection to working with Georgia to speed South Carolina's permitting process.

The state Department of Health and Environmental Control initially planned to reject Georgia's Savannah River dredging permit. Haley said she asked for a hearing from DHEC but she said she didn't push for approval.She said Georgia initially failed to meet state benchmarks but came through with long-term commitments that more than met state standards. "You don't undercut people in order to beat them. You beat them by winning. So if they fair and square got the permit that the feds basically said they didn't need our authorization to give them anyway; if they got the permit we're going to have the best and most vibrant ports cause we're going to win," said Haley. Legislators asked Haley to testify at a hearing Tuesday on the situation. Haley said she wouldn't set a precedent by appearing.

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State Senator Vincent Sheheen has this say following the governor's news conference. "To think that we would just roll over and allow this to occur after fighting it for months, really years, is very puzzling and I think that answers ought to be given in a formal manner and until the governor and her staff testify, I think we have to take what's said with a grain of salt."

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)