In a statement applauding the unanimous vote, House Speaker Bobby Harrell said DHEC’s reversal would have caused irreversible environmental and economic damage to the state. “Not only has this placed Charleston’s port at a competitive disadvantage and jeopardized the very existence of a future port in Jasper, it may have also put our state’s taxpayers on the hook for paying a significant portion of Georgia’s port dredging,” he said.
The bill, H. 4627, requires any of DHEC’s actions regarding the Savannah River’s “navigability, depth, dredging, sludge disposal and other collateral issues” to be approved by the Savannah River Maritime Commission. DHEC’s permit reversal ignored the commission, which legislators called a violation of state law.
The General Assembly’s bipartisan smackdown of the Haley Administration comes on the same day the governor appointed former Labor, Licensing and Registration Director Catherine Templeton as head of DHEC.