Long-Term Funding for Great Lakes Maritime Research Institute

GOAL: Seek long-term Federal funding for the Great Lakes Maritime Research Institute (GLMRI) co-chaired by the University of Wisconsin-Superior and the University of Minnesota Duluth.  GLMRI currently operates on a cooperative agreement with the Maritime Administration that funds projects on a one-year-at-a-time basis, but to be truly functional for industry, R&D has to be a long-term, on-going venture.

BACKGROUND: The Great Lakes Maritime Research Institute was established in 2004 and represents a consortium of colleges throughout the Great Lakes region.  GLMRI is dedicated to developing and improving environmentally sustainable maritime commerce on the Great Lakes through applied research.

In the time that GLMRI has been in existence, it has initiated significant projects.  GLMRI has, for example, developed a Seaway-Sized Bulk Carrier Model for Hydrodynamic Optimization of Ballast-Free Ship Design in partnership with the University of Michigan.  In cooperation with the University of Toledo (Ohio), the Institute created a groundbreaking website as a repository for all types of information regarding cargo movement on the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Seaway and the economic benefits waterborne commerce generates.  This website has been done in collaboration and with funding from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

GLMRI, working with Great Lakes Fleet/Key Lakes, Inc., was awarded a Clean Diesel Grant from the EPA that was used to support the repowering of a large U.S.-flag laker.

The Institute has supported a wide variety of studies, such as economic research on the value of maritime commerce, the environmental benefits of maritime commerce, and studies on ballast, dredging, harbor maintenance taxes, an environmental management program for Great Lakes ports, Lake ferry studies and the conversion of vessels to Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG).  GLMRI has also been working with economic development agencies, local government officials and private industry to develop an LNG supply chain for marine and other transportation users. Closer to home, GLMRI supports a K-12 teachers program in the summer that helps teachers develop classroom lessons about Great Lakes shipping.  GLMRI has continued to provide reports and presentations on the topics that impact the region, such as the value of cargo (as compared to tonnage) that is shipped, along with opportunities for short sea shipping and expanded use of existing Great Lakes marine routes.

The Great Lakes region has long needed an organization such as GLMRI.  The unique nature of Great Lakes shipping, both domestic, U.S./Canada, and overseas, requires a tightly-focused approach.  While transportation studies are being conducted elsewhere, their results may not transfer well to this system.  Research that will bring new trades and jobs and address Lakes-specific environmental concerns must be conducted by an organization based in and dedicated to the region and its transportation system.

ACTION: Work with Great Lakes delegation to have GLMRI funding become an imbedded program and to ensure long-term funding for this important research.