U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today made this statement on news the Port of Charleston deepening project has been declared a nationally and regionally significant infrastructure project. This designation will help expedite the modernization process at Charleston and six other ports across the country.
"This is very good news and a recognition the rest of the country now understands what we've known all along -- Charleston Harbor deepening is a critical project for our state, region, and national economy. It is a vital economic engine which must be deepened so it can handle 24/7 the new, larger post-Panamax ships coming online.
"Two years ago we were fighting hard for a $150,000 appropriation to keep the Charleston Port study alive and we were seemingly dead in the water. Turning it around has truly been a South Carolina team effort. Everyone has played a role from the local, state and federal level and shows what can happen when you work together.
"I want to thank Governor Haley for her work in helping push Charleston's case forward and creating a new, national vision for ports. She continually brought this issue up in her meetings with President Obama and Vice President Biden. She helped ensure this critical project was on their radar.
"I also want to thank Charleston Mayor Joe Riley who has taken the time and effort to personally make the case to President Obama. Congressman Clyburn has used his influence to push this project forward and all the members of our congressional delegation - Tim Scott, Joe Wilson, Jeff Duncan, Trey Gowdy, and Mick Mulvaney - have stressed to our congressional leaders the importance of the Charleston port.
"I also want to thank my Senate colleague Jim DeMint. In two years we have gone from a more parochial view of port deepening, where each state looked after their own interests, to one in which we are moving toward a more national vision for ports. In a post-earmarking environment, we have been able to prove to the Corps of Engineers, White House, and everyone with any stake in the matter, that Charleston Harbor deepening is a worthy project critical to our economy.
"Today's news is a strong step in the right direction and I appreciate the Obama Administration for making this happen but there remains more work to be done. I have been and will continue working with my congressional colleagues to help create a merit-based, national vision to deal with port expansion and modernization. There is beginning to emerge a roadmap which will be beneficial to Charleston and the nation as a whole. And let it be known the catalyst for the whole debate was Charleston Harbor deepening."