Tate Zeigler (202-224-5972) or Kevin Bishop (864-250-1417)
WASHINGTON –The United States Senate is now debating the Energy and Water Appropriations bill which contains many important provisions for South Carolinas’ harbors, waterways, and coastline. Among the most notable is a provision introduced by U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) which makes the Port of Charleston eligible for funding to continue its harbor deepening study.
“Deepening Charleston Harbor is the number-one issue for South Carolina’s economy,” said Graham, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “The Port of Charleston is our gateway to the world. That’s why I have long believed that when it comes to deepening Charleston Harbor, failure is simply not an option.
“Today, one out of every five jobs in South Carolina is tied – directly and indirectly – to the operation of the Port,” said Graham. “Deepening the port will allow us to keep these jobs in our state and also create more jobs in the future. We are moving to a more merit-based approach to port deepening and I’m confident Charleston will fare well under that new standard. Charleston port deepening offers the taxpayer the biggest bang for their buck.”
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 receive up to $10.5 million for ongoing harbor studies. The federal share of the Charleston Harbor deepening study, which will be matched by the state, is expected to cost approximately $4.2 million in the next fiscal year.
“Our new provision is a breakthrough in port funding,” said Graham. “Under the current system we are shut out because we were not included in the President’s 2012 budget. Now, Charleston will be eligible to receive federal funding to continue our deepening study. Until the study is complete we cannot transition into actual construction on deepening the harbor.”
Graham noted that other provisions will also have positive impact on South Carolina’s ports like Georgetown and coastal communities which continue to face erosion problems. They will be eligible for funding in various areas including a $55 million account for commercial harbor maintenance, $40 million for shore protection, $30 million for small harbor maintenance, $22 million for navigation, and $15 million for inland navigation channel maintenance.