Lawmakers fight corps' plan for Lock & Dam

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Tuesday, April 16, 2019
News 12 at 11

AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) -- Today is the last day to let the Army Corps of Engineers know what you think about their plan for the lock and dam.

Lawmakers are also taking another step to fight that plan. News 12 found some documents showing the corps' plan contradicts what they've said in the past.

South Carolina Representative Bill Hixon says it's an all-out war.

"If we have to, and I've always said this, if we have to, I'll contact Governor McMaster and I'll get him to play the trump card, which is President Trump," said Hixon.

After months of debate, lawmakers have new ammunition.

"I think the people need to be aware we have a chance at stopping this," said Hixon.

The corps has always said two things: What the corps of engineers cares about is following the legislation doing what the law says to do.

When News 12 asked who's your boss, they said Congress.

A new letter from Senator Lindsay Graham's office says the corps isn't holding up their end.

"You've got both sides of the river signing it saying you're not carrying out the orders of Congress," said Hixon.

The corps also says their plans revolve around following the endangered species act and saving a Savannah River fish called Sturgeon.

These documents just released by the South Carolina DNR say the department has "serious concerns" that losing the dam would actually damage fish habitat.

Lawmakers are also presenting findings of a UGA study which says the Sturgeon population in the Savannah River is currently the second highest in all of Georgia.

"I think if you wanna fight that I think that's not very smart," said Hixon.

Hixon says this is all just the tip of the iceberg and they plan to continue to show the corps is flat-out wrong.

"Why do you wanna mess up something that's working? Why not repair what we got," said Hixon.

The corps says the answer to that question is it's too expensive. South Carolina reps also passed a budget change to cut off D-HEC funding to the corps for construction. Representative Hixon says Attorney General Alan Wilson is willing to defend that in court.

Meanwhile, the corps says they're not doing anything until the comment period is over at midnight. The entire Aiken delegation will also file a letter tomorrow, saying their plan is unacceptable.