Tate Zeigler (202-224-5972) or Kevin Bishop (864-250-1417)
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today said a new provision placed in the Senate Energy & Water Appropriations bill could be a breakthrough for next year’s funding of the Charleston Harbor Post-45 Deepening effort.
Graham is a member of the Appropriations Committee and worked to include the language which passed through committee.
Under the provision affecting Charleston Harbor Deepening:
Funding for ongoing Army Corp of Engineer projects -- which were not included in the President’s budget submission to Congress -- will be eligible to apply for and receive up to $10.5 million for ongoing harbor studies.
The South Carolina State Ports Authority, along with other ports from across the country, will be eligible to submit an application requesting funding for their project.
The Army Corp of Engineers will make the final determination on which ports receive funding and the amount.
“This is a breakthrough for Fiscal Year 2012 funding on the Port of Charleston,” said Graham. “It does not solve all our future funding issues, but it will allow us to keep making progress over the next year.”
“Under the old system, we would have been shut out because we were not included in the President’s budget,” said Graham. “Now, Charleston will have the opportunity to apply for and receive funding from this account to continue our deepening study. Without the study, we can’t design and begin actual construction on a deeper harbor.
“At the end of the day, Charleston Harbor deepening is about jobs,” said Graham. “Today, one out of every five jobs in South Carolina is tied – directly and indirectly – to the operation of the Port. Deepening the port will allow us to keep these jobs in our state and also create jobs in the future. That’s why I have long believed that when it comes to deepening Charleston Harbor, failure is simply not an option.”
Graham also thanked Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-California) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee) for their assistance in helping push forward with this important change in committee.
“It would not have been possible without bipartisan cooperation,” said Graham. “I’m proud that other members of the committee listened to the concerns that were raised and allowed us to come up with a proposal to allow port studies like Charleston to move forward.”
The Army Corp of Engineers Charleston Harbor study began in June is expected to cost up to $20 million and take up to five years to complete. The federal government will supply half of the funding and the other half will come from the South Carolina State Ports Authority.
Graham also said the committee passed language requiring the Army Corp of Engineers to submit to the Senate Appropriations Committee their ‘national vision’ on how our nations’ ports should handle the post-Panamax vessels that currently transit the Suez Canal and will soon advantage of the Panama Canal Expansion. The Corp has 180 days to complete the report and send it back to the committee.
The committee also included language providing $30 million for harbor maintenance funding and $15 million for Inland Channel Navigation Maintenance. The Georgetown port will be eligible to apply for and receive funding from these sources to meet their dredging needs.