COLUMBIA — Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal is reiterating support for deepening the harbor in Charleston after a protest over permitting for the Port of Savannah.

Deal released a statement Wednesday pledging support for deepening efforts for both projects and urging cooperation.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood on Tuesday endorsed the Georgia project. LaHood said the $600 million Savannah project has to be done. He promised to hold a meeting of groups with interests in the deal next month to help find money for the expansion amid efforts to cut federal spending.

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley’s support for environmental permitting for the Georgia project last week brought a backlash from Charleston port project supporters. The Savannah River Maritime Commission in South Carolina this week invalidated that water permit’s approval.