TOLEDO, OH - A lifelong commitment to American-made products, dedication to saving and creating jobs, creating economic development opportunities, and her commitment to restoring the promise of the middle class has earned Congresswoman Betty Sutton (D-OH) an award as 2010 Great Lakes Legislator of the Year from the largest labor/management coalition representing workers and industries dependent on shipping on the Great Lakes. Rep. Sutton, who represents Ohio's 13th District in the House of Representatives, will formally receive the award from Great Lakes Maritime Task Force ("GLMTF") in Washington on February 4.
"Rep. Sutton's leading role in enacting the Consumer Assistance to Recycle and Save (CARS or "Cash for Clunkers" Program) Act made her our overwhelming choice," said James H.I. Weakley, President of GLMTF and President of Lake Carriers' Association. "That program resulted in the sale of more than 330,000 American-made cars, and light- and heavy-duty trucks. An estimated 60,000 jobs were created or saved by the program and the sales stimulated local economies nationwide, resulting in a $3.8 billion to $6.8 billion increase in the GDP."
Weakley noted there's a strong connection between shipping on America's Fourth Sea Coast and the automotive industry. "On average, a car requires 1,600 pounds of steel, so the Cash for Clunkers program means 265,000 tons of American-made steel is moving people about the country. Iron ore, the primary ingredient in steel, is the largest cargo on the Great Lakes. It takes about 1.5 tons of iron ore to make a ton of steel, so those vehicles consumed nearly 400,000 tons of Minnesota and Michigan iron ore that moved from mine to mill in U.S.-Flag lakers."
Another benefit of the Cash for Clunkers program was an increase in fuel efficiency. Vehicles sold under the program have an average combined EPA rating of 24.9 miles per gallon. The vehicles they replaced averaged 15.8 miles per gallon.
"The environmental benefits of fuel efficiency are another tie to Great Lakes shipping," said John D. Baker, 1st Vice President of GLMTF and President Emeritus of the ILA's Great Lakes District Council. "Waterborne commerce is the greenest mode of transportation. Ships use less fuel and produce fewer emissions than trains and trucks. For example, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimates the largest U.S.-Flag vessels on the Lakes move a ton of cargo 607 miles on one gallon of fuel. In comparison, a train can move a ton only 202 miles per gallon of fuel."
Baker stressed the only thing stronger than Sutton's commitment to the environment is her allegiance to American labor and enterprise. "I have known Betty for many years. She was one of the ILA's lawyers in Cleveland. Time after time she has stood firm with American labor and American companies. That's important in the maritime industry, because the ground rules for domestic shipping are embodied in the Jones Act and its requirement that cargo moving between U.S. ports be carried in vessels that are U.S.-owned, U.S.-built, and U.S.-crewed."
Congresswoman Sutton has made other significant contributions to Great Lakes shipping since being elected to the House of Representatives in 2006. "Rep. Sutton voted for the Water Resources Development Act of 2007 that called for accelerated dredging of Great Lakes ports and waterways," said Patrick J. O'Hern, 2nd Vice President of GLMTF and Vice President and General Manager of Bay Shipbuilding Company. "Equally important, that bill authorized full Federal funding for a second Poe-sized lock at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. If the Poe Lock ever fails for a lengthy period of time, the iron ore, western coal and export grain trades on the Fourth Sea Coast will slow to a trickle."
Congresswoman Sutton also voted for the Coast Guard Reauthorization Act of 2009 (H.R. 3619) that authorizes construction of another U.S. Coast Guard heavy icebreaker for the Great Lakes. "In 2008, U.S.-Flag lakers suffered more than $1.3 million in ice-related damages because the Coast Guard did not have enough icebreakers to keep the shipping lanes open," said Don Cree, 3rd Vice President of GLMTF and National Vice President, Great Lakes for American Maritime Officers. "This deficiency in icebreaking resources also jeopardizes shipping via the Seaway. Deep sea operators could cancel their last voyages rather than risk having a vessel trapped on the Lakes over the winter. The Fourth Sea Coast needs a twin to the icebreaker MACKINAW and another 140-foot-long icebreaking tug transferred to the Lakes."
Sutton also has co-sponsored H.R. 3486, the Short Sea Shipping Act of 2009, which provides incentives to re-establish cargo ferry service on the Great Lakes and to ease congestion on the region's rail lines and highways.
Congresswoman Sutton joins a select group of Ohio legislators with her selection as Great Lakes Legislator of the Year. Previous recipients from the Ohio delegation are Senators George V. Voinovich, Mike DeWine, and John D. Glenn, and Representatives Marcy Kaptur, Steven C. LaTourette, and Louis Stokes.
Founded in 1992, Great Lakes Maritime Task Force promotes domestic and international shipping on the Great Lakes. With 88 members, it is the largest coalition to ever speak for the Great Lakes shipping community and draws its membership from both labor and management representing U.S.-Flag vessel operators, shipboard and longshore unions, port authorities, cargo shippers, terminal operators, shipyards and other Great Lakes interests. Its goals include restoring adequate funding for dredging of Great Lakes deep-draft ports and waterways, construction of a second Poe-sized lock at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan; protecting the Jones Act and other U.S. maritime cabotage laws and regulations; maximizing the Lakes overseas trade; and opposing exports of and/or increased diversions of Great Lakes water.
Glen G. Nekvasil
Secretary, Great Lakes Maritime Task Force