Thirteen Great Lakes Senators yesterday have sent a letter to key legislators who will lead the House/Senate conference on the Water Resources Reform and Development Act urging them to include provisions that will bring more Federal dredging dollars back to the Lakes and break the dredging crisis’ stranglehold on shipping on the Fourth Seacoast.
Years of inadequate funding for dredging have left the largest vessels using only about 90 percent of their per-trip capacity and the resulting inefficiencies are hampering the recovery of the Midwest economy.
The letter to Chairmen Boxer and Shuster and Ranking Members Vitter and Rahall asks that at least 15 percent of all annual Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (“HMTF”) appropriations be provided for maintaining the Great Lakes Navigation System (“GLNS”). The Senators also ask that the GLNS be explicitly authorized as a single system. Any expanded uses of the HMTF should await full restoration of currently authorized projects.
James H. I. Weakley, President of Lake Carriers’ Association, applauded the Senators for their ongoing commitment to ending the dredging crisis: “The dredging backlog on the Lakes has grown to more than 18 million cubic yards, yet at the same time the surplus in the HMTF has burgeoned to more than $7 billion. A properly crafted Water Resources Reform and Development Act can end this neglect and usher in a new age of Great Lakes shipping. The battle is not yet won, but the Senators’ letter sends a strong message that our country can no longer tolerate the dredging crisis on the Lakes.”
Great Lakes Senators signing the letter are Carl Levin (D-MI), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Rob Portman (R-OH), Al Franken (D-MN), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Kristen E. Gillibrand (D-NY), Richard Durbin (D-IL), and Ron Johnson (R-WI).
Press Release, November 27, 2013