Advocacy

Great Lakes Navigation System Advocacy

The Great Lakes Commission calls for the improved efficiency, competitiveness, security and sustainability of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River maritime transportation system to support the regional and national economies of the United States and Canada.

The Great Lakes Commission calls for continued federal investments to safeguard and grow the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River maritime transportation system, which links more than 100 U.S. and Canadian ports to the world economy, moves an average of approximately 175million tons of cargo annually, and generates more than 225,000 jobs and $58 billion in economic impact. The system is vital for our national economy and security as well, with nearly 100 percent of the iron ore needed for U.S. steel production passing through the Soo Locks. Key actions include full use of monies paid into the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund and dedicated funding for the Great Lakes; dredging to maintain channels and harbors; direction from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to manage the Great Lakes as a single, integrated navigation system; engaging stakeholders in developing innovative long-term solutions to dredged material management challenges, increasing opportunities for beneficial use of dredged material and reducing disposal of dredged material in the open waters of the Great Lakes; and a new large lock at the Soo Locks complex. The Commission also supports increased resources for U.S. Customs and Border Protectionto facilitate cross-border movement of cargo and passengers, including a growing tourism economy on cruise vessels.

To be determined

The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River maritime transportation system is vital to the economies of the United States and Canada. The system facilitates domestic and international trade while creating jobs in port communities and supporting industries such as manufacturing, steel production, agribusiness and power generation. Ensuring the continued viability of commercial navigation requires maintaining and investing in harbors, ports, shipping channels, locks and related infrastructure throughout the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River system, including regular dredging. These activities require close regional and binational coordination, given the interdependent nature of the system and the critical role played by key infrastructure like the Soo Locks and the St. Lawrence Seaway. The Conference of Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Governors and Premiers recently completed a comprehensive strategy for the navigation system that aims to double maritime trade, improve environmental performance and support the region’s industrial core. The strategy recommends actions to maintain and expand the maritime transportation system and establishes a Regional Maritime Entity to coordinate state and provincial actions.

The economic viability of the Great Lakes maritime transportation system is threatened by insufficient funding for dredging, diminishing options for disposing dredged material and aging navigation infrastructure. The 2014 Water Resources Reform and Development Act included provisions that will benefit the Great Lakes region, including reform of the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund; dedicated funding for Great Lakes ports and recreational harbors; and direction to the Army Corps of Engineers to manage the Great Lakes as a single, integrated navigation system. These important changes must be fully implemented and closely coordinated with the Great Lakes states, the navigation industry and local stakeholders. In addition, other options for using dredged material are critical to reduce the need for its disposal in the open waters of the Great Lakes. A study is underway on the costs and benefits of building a new large lock at Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. This project should move forward to modernize this infrastructure that is critical to our national security and our regional and national economies.

For More Information

Matt Doss
Policy Director
Great Lakes Commission
734‐971‐9135
[email protected]

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