So, why not expedite Keystone Pipeline and stop closing coal power plants?
Georgians, South Carolinians and their respective Republican governors got early Christmas presents from an unlikely Democratic Party source last week when President Barack Obama agreed to waive further application of federal environmental rules in order to expedite the dredging of several U.S. ports, including those at Savannah and Charleston, S.C.
The dredging is needed so that the larger ships that will soon be able to traverse an expanded Panama Canal can dock in U.S. ports that are presently too shallow. The President’s executive order under the “We Can’t Wait” program, also authorized expedited action on ports in Jacksonville, Fla., Miami, New York and New Jersey.
South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley was widely criticized by prominent officials of both parties in her state for her very public assistance rendered in support of Georgia Governor Nathan Deal’s push for federal assistance in readying the Port of Savannah. Today, she is being hailed for her tenacious lobbying of the Obama administration and the President himself on several occasions.
Unlike some previous executive orders addressing immigration law and mandated contraception and morning after abortion pill health insurance coverage mandates under Obamacare, President Obama appears on solid ground this time, given waiver provisions of the Clean Water, Clean Air and Endangered Species Acts and executive discretion allowed under other vague provisions of the environmental laws.
Agnes Scott College grad and G. Sand’s fellow Sandlapper, South Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Jean Toal gave some hope to environmentalist groups trying to halt the port dredgings in federal courts when she chastised the Palmetto State’s Department of Health and Environmental Control for waiving state regulations. The (Macon) Telegraph reports that:
“Chief Justice Jean Toal said during a Supreme Court hearing that DHEC broke state law when it left the commission out of dredging negotiations and ‘rubber stamped’ an agreement with Georgia officials. DHEC staff had initially turned down the water quality permit, but the agency reversed itself after Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal flew to Columbia to meet with Gov. Nikki Haley, who appoints members of the DHEC board.”
U.S. District Court Judge Richard Gergel is being asked by several environmental groups to legal environmental requirements under South Carolina law, but in all likelihood President Obama’s actions will likely be affirmed under the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
[Originally published in the Atlanta a:Times News by G. Sand Lapper]