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 is a designated National Maritime Enhancement Institute (NMEI) and under public law 1121-2 is eligible for on-going annual funding. However, GLMRI currently operates with the Maritime Administration that funds projects on an as-needed basis. To be truly functional for industry and government, R&D has to be a long-term, on-going funding appropriation.

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 economically and environmentally sustainable maritime commerce on the Great Lakes through applied research. GLMRI serves as a catalyst to bring together the expertise of academics, government agencies, businesses, non-governmental organizations and individual citizens to address maritime issues.

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, was awarded a Clean Diesel Grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that was used to support the repowering of a large U.S.-flag laker. GLMRI has engaged in research on the conversion of U.S.-flag Lake vessels to they could use Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) as a primary fuel.

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 LNG. GLMRI has also been working with economic development agencies, local government officials and private industry to develop a LNG supply chain for marine and other transportation users. GLMRI, working with Great Lakes Fleet, was awarded a Clean Diesel Grant from the EPA that was used to support the repowering of a large U.S.-flag laker. GLMRI continues 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 and has benefitted from its research. The unique nature of Great Lakes shipping, domestic, bi-national, 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. For example, GLMRI researchers are currently researching the possible operational impacts of climate change on Great Lakes shipping. Part of the research will focus on how climate change may increase maritime commerce on the Great Lakes.

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