SC high court says DHEC violated law

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) -- The South Carolina Supreme Court says the state's environmental agency violated state law in approving a permit for the $650 million deepening of the Savannah River shipping channel.

The court ruled in a decision released Friday the approval authority rested with the South Carolina Maritime Commission, not the Department of Health and Environmental Control.

The required state certification under the federal Clean Water Act has been the subject of a year of political debate in South Carolina. The Georgia ports want the channel deepened to handle larger container ships.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has since asked Congress for an exemption from having to get South Carolina approval of the permit. It says the exemption would prevent what it calls inappropriate delays with the project.

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