Senator Presses Nominee for Army Corps Commander on Funding for Great Lakes Dredging (USA)
The Senate Armed Services Committee yesterday held a nomination hearing for Lt. Gen. Thomas Bostick to be the new Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Committee Chairman Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., used the opportunity to press the nominee on the need for additional funding for Great Lakes dredging and maintenance.
“The Great Lakes shoreline is the longest. This system connects the manufacturing facilities and agricultural markets of the Midwest with trading partners throughout the world, which is vital to our economic competitiveness,” Levin said at the hearing. “Yet our harbors need dredging. Some are threatened with closure to commercial shipping or require ships to lighten their load in order to enter. The Army Corps of Engineers for far too long has paid inadequate attention to the Great Lakes.”
In questioning Lt. Gen. Bostick, Levin asked about the method that the Corps uses to determine Great Lakes funding. Levin pointed out that the Great Lakes navigational system is funded through the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund, which comes from fees on incoming shipments. Other waterways, however, are only partially funded through user fees, and those waterways also receive general fund contributions. At Levin’s urging, Lt. Gen. Bostick agreed, if confirmed, to assess the disparate funding mechanisms and assess whether they are fair to the Great Lakes.
“We feel that we have been shortchanged in the Great Lakes for a long time,” Levin said.
Dredging Today Staff, February 10, 2012; Image: epa