2020 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 waterborne 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) Immediate construction of a second U.S. Coast Guard Great Lakes heavy icebreaker, recapitalization of the 40-year old 140-foot-long icebreaking tugs, and an increase in the number of Canadian icebreakers assigned to the Lakes and Seaway during the ice season.

b) Completing the second Poe-sized lock at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, is critical to American manufacturing, infrastructure, and energy production. GLMTF urges Congress and the White House to fully and efficiently fund its construction so that the $1 billion project can be completed within seven years.

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) Work with the eight Great Lakes states and other stakeholders to develop federal vessel discharge regulations for the Great Lakes authorized in the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act (VIDA), included in the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2018. The trade patterns on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway require vessels to transit the waters of many states and provinces. The varying standards that currently exist were threatening to end waterborne commerce. Uniform, achievable federal discharge regulation is a must for Great Lakes/Seaway shipping to remain viable.

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.