S.C. Supreme Court Rules DHEC Overstepped Authority
The S.C. Supreme Court late Friday issued its decision in the Savannah Harbor deepening case.
The court agreed with conservation groups that the S.C. Department of Health & Environmental Control Board overstepped its authority when it approved the $650 million project based on an agreement the Georgia Ports Authority and the Corps of Engineers, the project sponsors. On March 6, 2011, the Southern Environmental Law Center challenged DHEC’s authority to issue the permit on behalf of the Savannah RIVERKEEPER®, South Carolina Coastal Conservation League, South Carolina Wildlife Federation, and Conservation Voters of South Carolina.
This decision upholds the rule of law and ensures that the severe damage that this project would visit on South Carolina will be objectively reviewed. The result of the decision is to reinstate the initial decision by professional DHEC staff, which denied a water quality certification for the project because of its unacceptable environmental impacts.
The Georgia Ports Authority and the Corps are free to appeal that denial to the South Carolina Administrative Law Court.
The Southern Environmental Law Center is a regional nonprofit using the power of the law to protect the health and environment of the Southeast (Virginia, Tennessee, North and South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama). Founded in 1986, SELC's team of more than 40 legal and policy experts represent more than 100 partner groups on issues of climate change and energy, air and water quality, forests, the coast and wetlands, transportation, and land use.