A Message From Sen Tom Davis on the Jasper Port

All:

Here is the status of the Jasper port as it pertains to the Senate version of the budget now being debated.

The attached Jasper port proviso was adopted this morning unanimously in the full Senate. This is the version of the budget proviso I was pushing for, and it has now been agreed to by the SPA (meaning it won’t try to amend it when the budget goes back to the House). As you will recall, this proviso pertains to the $2 million for the Jasper port that I had included in the Senate version of the budget.

The three most-important components of the Jasper port proviso adopted by the Senate today are:

First, there’s an express reference to the legislative directive of Section 54-3-115 of the South Carolina Code which requires the SPA to take “all action necessary to expeditiously develop a port in Jasper County.” This is important since the SPA has argued at various times in the past that the development of the Jasper port can proceed at whatever pace it and the Georgia Ports Authority (its joint venture partner) chooses. This is incorrect, in that both the SPA and the South Carolina members on the joint venture’s board are bound by this legislative directive to act expeditiously in regard to developing the port.

Second, included in the actions to be taken by the SPA in the next fiscal year are those necessary to obtain the permits for the Jasper port required by Section 404 and Section 203 of the indicated federal acts and also relative to developing the EIS. In recent months, the SPA has suggested that permitting activity should either be put on hold or delayed since the SPA says it doesn’t need capacity until 2035. The express language of the adopted proviso, however, requires the SPA to continue the permitting activity without delay — again, something required by legislative directive.

Finally, the SPA must provide all members of the Legislature with two reports in the next fiscal year as to the progress being made on the Jasper port. Direct reporting to and oversight by the members of the Legislature will be the new normal going forward. I appreciate the SPA providing me and other legislators with assurances of its commitment to this project, but it is best at this point to have a “trust, but verify” attitude.

It will take vigilance on everyone’s part to ensure this project stays on track. Feel free to share this email and the attachment with anyone you think might be interested in these developments.

Tom

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