2018 Policy Statement

Great Lakes Maritime Task Force:

I. Promotes a strong U.S.-flag Merchant Marine on the Great Lakes to best advance the domestic and international trades.  To this end, we:

a.)  Advocate full application of the U.S. maritime cabotage laws, primary of which is the Jones Act.  These laws and statutes ensure the safety and efficiency of Great Lakes commerce, and nationwide, play a major role in the economic, national and homeland security of the United States.  Any exemptions to these laws will create an unlevel playing field and will drive U.S.-flag vessels from their own waters.

b.)  Support maritime security legislation that ensures U.S.-flag deep-sea vessels are available to meet the national security needs of the United States.

II. Seeks expanded domestic and international trade through public and private Great Lakes ports and docks.  To this end, we:

a.)  Support construction of a second heavy U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker for the Great Lakes, continued modernization of the 140-foot-long icebreakers, and an increase in the number of Canadian icebreakers assigned to the Lakes and Seaway during the ice season.

b.)  Support construction of a second Poe-sized lock at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.  In 2017, 90 percent of the 75.3 million tons of cargo that moved through the Soo Locks transited the Poe Lock.  In June 2018, the Corps of Engineers determined the project has a benefit/cost ratio of 2.42.  President Trump has pledged to "fix" the Soo Locks and James Dalton, the Corps' Director of Civil Works, has stressed that, "The strategic importance of the Soo Locks cannot be overstated."

III. Seeks to restore adequate funding for dredging of Great Lakes deep-draft ports and waterways.  To this end, we:

a.)  The Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 (WRRDA14) requires the Federal government to incrementally increase expenditures from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) until they reach 100 percent of annual receipts in 2025.  The legislation also designates the Lakes a “system” in terms of dredging, which ends the destructive pitting of Great Lakes ports against one another for dredging dollars.  All this augers wells for the future, but the appropriation process is an annual event, so GLMTF must continually work with Congress and the Administration to ensure funding for dredging is increased and that the Lakes get their fair share of the bigger dredging budget.

IV. Promotes fuller utilization of U.S. shipyards in the Great Lakes region.  To this end, we:

a.)  Support continuation of Federal Mortgage Insurance (Title XI) and the Capital Construction Fund programs administered by the U.S. Maritime Administration.

V. Seeks to strengthen the economy of the Great Lakes basin in ways that promote commerce while protecting the environment.  To this end, we:

a.)  Support Federal regulations governing ballast water that will prevent additional non-native species from being introduced into the Great Lakes system via the ballast water on oceangoing vessels.  The state-by-state regime that has emerged threatens to end waterborne commerce on the Great Lakes, yet not one new non-native species has been identified since the St. Lawrence Seaway began requiring oceangoing vessels to exchange their ballast before entering the system in 2006.  U.S.-flag lakers never leave the system, so have never introduced a non-native species.  Furthermore, since the Lakes are interconnected, exotics introduced by oceangoing vessels move about freely, so treating lakers’ ballast would have little, if any, impact on the spread of non-native species that have taken root in the Lakes.

b.)  Continue to educate legislators, regulators and the general public that waterborne commerce is the greenest form of transportation.  Vessels use less fuel and produce fewer emissions than trains or trucks.