Harbor: a part of a body of water protected and deep enough to furnish anchorage; especially one with port facilities – Merriam-Webster Dictionary
President Obama's proposed budget has $600,000 -- far short of the $105 million requested and the $500 million needed to actually complete the project -- to continue studying the deepening of the Savannah River from 42 to 48 feet.
The Savannah River is not technically a 'harbor,' rather, it is a river with a port. The idea is that once the Panama Canal is expanded, the size of container ships will increase and the Savannah Port needs to be able to accommodate them.
Many Georgia leaders and elected officials have fallen over themselves to demonstrate their support for this project, which they say will bring jobs and economic development.
However, the Army Corps found that NO jobs will result from this proposal, according to Corps economist Bernard Moseby at a December 14th stakeholder meeting. Georgia taxpayers have already committed $102 million and Governor Deal has proposed another $32 million in his 2012 budget.
The Georgia Chapter submitted comments on the draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which detail our concerns including, decimation of freshwater marshland and decreased levels of dissolved oxygen, which threaten habitat of endangered species including the Shortnose Sturgeon, as well as leave the popular recreational fishery for Striped Bass on life support with a stocking program.
The air quality impacts have not been adequately studied, but Savannah violated federal air quality standards twice in 2010, and this project will only make things worse. Are we striving to be like Long Beach/LA Port (see right)?
What will happen if the Savannah River is not deepened? Will all the current container ships that Savannah can currently unload be retired, immediately? Probably not. Is Savannah the best place on the East Coast to accommodate the giant Panamex ships? The Army Corps wouldn’t know -- it only studied the impact of deepening the Savannah River. While Charleston is scrambling to move their port expansion plans forward, no entity has undertaken an effort to identify the best place to dock Panamex ships on the East Coast. It would likely be somewhere that is an actual 'harbor,' and by definition is deep enough to furnish anchorage.
Georgians should heed caution before letting our state leaders invest another cent in this project.