Senators DeMint and Graham are sponsoring federal legislation that would establish a review panel to determine the best place to spend federal funds for harbor deepening. This is a badly needed reform for a process that is badly broken. The current process has become hopelessly political, the creation of an unbiased panel would ensure that the most sensible decisions are made with our federal dollars.
The current system looks like this:
Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) — and every business representative in Georgia they can dig up — claims this deepening is “do-or-die” — the port in Savannah will wither and decay and all jobs will be lost if this deepening does not happen and happen fast, by 2014.
The US Army Corps of Engineers meanwhile, in the official economic analysis upon which the federal determination of harbor deepening dollars is based, claims that business growth at the Savannah Port will be exactly the same with or without the deepening.
These can’t both be true, and taxpayers should be furious that this is the process used to justify billions of dollars of expenditures on Corps projects throughout the United States. GPA’s answer to the incongruity is that the Corps “can’t” look at all of the facts about the business growth. So this makes the study, which lays claims to $357 million taxpayer dollars, at best grossly incomplete and at worst an outright lie.
The hard truth is that there are limited tax dollars for deepening our ports on the east coast. If we pick just one, we should be offered a comparison chart of costs and benefits to be assured that we are making the best choice with our money.
The new legislation promises to do just that — contact your federal representatives and ask them to sign-on.