Ships are loaded and unloaded in the Port of Savannah. Following years of political wrangling and environmental concerns, the deepening of the Savannah River is one step closer to becoming a reality. Officials argue a deeper port is needed in order for Georgia to remain competitive and accommodate the larger class of ships. AJC 2014 file photo
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

On the possible link between Savannah’s port and Georgia’s offshore drilling stance 

A link may be developing between the two biggest Washington proposals that involve Savannah. 

We’ve told you that Gov. Nathan Deal is the only coastal governor who hasn’t embraced or opposed the Trump administration’s proposal to open offshore areas to oil and gas drilling. 

Yes, the governor has raised concerns about the idea, but he still hasn’t staked out a hard position for or against the move.

Stacey Abrams is running for governor.

At the same time, the governor is leaning on Georgia’s allies in Washington to pony up more funding for the deepening of the Savannah harbor. The Trump administration’s budget blueprint was a disappointment: It called on Congress to appropriate about half the $100 million state officials targeted.

Deal and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, the public face of the offshore drilling plan, had a phone conversation on Jan. 31. The governor’s office wouldn’t say what was discussed.

But people close to Deal said his neutrality on offshore drilling was a tactical decision. Since it’s not economical to drill off Georgia’s shore anyways, they say, it wasn’t worth risking more port funding by poking a finger in Trump’s eye. 

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More on off-shore drilling: According to the Brunswick News, U.S. Sen. David Perdue on Monday told a group of GOP women that drilling off the Georgia coast is unlikely, given the opening up of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to fossil fuel exploration.

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As we said, members of Georgia’s congressional delegation are livid at the Trump administration for shortchanging the state’s top economic development project, the dredging of the Port of Savannah, in Monday’s budget proposal. 

U.S. Sens. Johnny Isakson and David Perdue, and Rep. Buddy Carter, who represents the Georgia coast in the House, quickly invited President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence to Savannah for a tour of the harbor “to better understand its value to American business.” 

“An infrastructure project with a return on investment like the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project should be an absolute priority for the federal government,” Isakson said in a written statement. “We invite President Trump and Vice President Pence to the Port of Savannah to see firsthand the value this opportunity offers American businesses.” 

Insider’s note: This item was ripped and expanded from The Jolt.

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