Michigan Congressman Bill Huizenga (R) has been named 2014 Great Lakes Legislator of the Year by the largest labor/management coalition representing workers and industries dependent on shipping on America’s Fourth Sea Coast.
The award is presented annually by the Great Lakes Maritime Task Force (GLMTF) to a legislator who has helped advance shipping on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway.
“Congressman Huizenga has shown incredible resolve in addressing the dredging crisis on the Great Lakes,” said James H. I. Weakley, President of GLMTF. “His laser-like focus on the issue is one of the big reasons the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) passed by the House in 2013 contains provisions key to ending the dredging crisis. The bill not only calls for more funding for dredging, but designates the Great Lakes a system in terms of dredging, and that in itself should put the Lakes on an even footing with other waterways.”
Weakley, who is also President of Lake Carriers’ Association, emphasized Huizenga’s district includes ports that are suffering from the dredging crisis. He said: “Coal deliveries to Muskegon and limestone cargos to Grand Haven have been affected by the dredging crisis. The House and Senate are currently conferencing on their respective WRRDAs, and we are confident the Lakes provisions will be retained.”
Huizenga’s efforts to end the dredging crisis also have state-wide benefits. “Michigan is the state most impacted by the dredging crisis,” said John D. Baker, 1st Vice President of GLMTF. “Michigan boasts more deep-draft ports than the other seven Great Lakes states combined. The largest limestone quarries in the Great Lakes basin and cement plants in Alpena and Charlevoix are dependent on efficient shipping on the Lakes, but the dredging crisis has dramatically reduced the amount of cargo that can be loaded each trip.”
Baker, who is also President Emeritus of the ILA’s Great Lakes District Council, stressed Michigan’s steel industry is also disadvantaged by the dredging crisis. He said: “Ships loading iron ore in Marquette for delivery to the steel mill in River Rouge cannot carry full loads because the St. Marys River has not been dredged since 2008.”
With his selection as Great Lakes Legislator of the Year, Rep. Huizenga becomes the ninth Michigan legislator to receive the award. Previous recipients are Senators Carl Levin, Debbie Stabenow and Spencer Abraham, and Representatives Candice Miller, Dave Camp, Vernon Ehlers, Bart Stupak, and Dave Bonior.
Press Release, May 8, 2014