A former South Carolina congressman will mediate a lawsuit over the need for the Army Corps of Engineers to get a South Carolina permit to deepen the Savannah River. The deepening project will allow better access to Georgia Ports Authority terminals.
By Matt Tomsic
Published Aug. 16, 2012
A former congressman from York will mediate a lawsuit between conservationists and the Army Corps of Engineers over the necessity of the Army Corps to get South Carolina permits for a river deepening project, a judge ordered Wednesday.
John Spratt represented South Carolina’s fifth congressional district from 1983 to 2011, according to the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Spratt lost re-election in 2010 to Rep. Mick Mulvaney.
Spratt also served in the U.S. Army from 1969 through 1971.
“The court regards Mr. Spratt’s prior exemplary service as a member of the leadership of the United States House of Representatives and his understanding of the complex and competing interests in play in this dispute as making him uniquely qualified to serve as the mediator in this matter,” wrote Judge Richard Gergel, who also appointed Judge Bruce Howe Hendricks to assist Spratt.
In February, the Southern Environmental Law Center filed the lawsuit, saying the Army Corps of Engineers didn’t get a pollution control permit from the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control for the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project, or SHEP, according to a lawsuit.
The Savannah River Maritime Commission asked to intervene as a plaintiff in July, arguing the lawsuit filed is related to a decision it made in May, when the commission amended a state permit to allow the Army Corps of Engineers Savannah District to dredge to 45 feet instead of its recommended 47 feet in the Savannah River deepening project.
In late July, the Georgia Ports Authority asked to intervene in the lawsuit as a defendant, arguing it has separate interests in the case from the Army Corps of Engineers.
A federal judge issued an order Wednesday to allow the maritime commission and ports authority to intervene.
The $650 million Savannah Harbor Expansion Project is being done in anticipation of the expansion of the Panama Canal, which port officials say will open the East Coast to larger post-Panamax ships.