The end of the Great Lakes dredging crisis took a step closer to reality last week when the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 4348 and included a provision that could lead to substantially increased Great Lakes dredging funding. The amendment directs that all funding collected in the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund be spent on dredging each year.
“Passage of H.R. 4348 with the Boustany amendment represents further progress in requiring that the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund monies all be spent on dredging each year,” said Eugene Caldwell, President of Great Lakes Maritime Task Force (GLMTF). “This is important progress as this legislation moves forward toward a House/Senate Conference Committee.”
“The dredging crisis has limited Great Lakes shipping’s ability to efficiently serve America’s industrial heartland,” said Don Cree, 1st Vice President of GLMTF and Great Lakes Special Assistant to the National President for American Maritime Officers. “Ships designed to carry more than 70,000 tons of iron ore or coal each trip have routinely left port with 10 percent or more of their hauling power unused. The lost carrying capacity has effectively decreased the capacity of the Great Lakes/Seaway system.”
“GLMTF has dedicated all its resources to the dredging crisis,” said James H.I. Weakley, 2nd Vice President of the coalition and President of Lake Carriers’ Association. “At times it seemed the battle was lost, but thanks to the dedicated efforts of our Great Lakes delegation in Washington, we continue to make progress on this critical issue.”
“Now we must focus our efforts on the House/Senate Conference Committee,” said John D. Baker, 3rd Vice President of GLMTF. “Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) and a bipartisan group of his colleagues have led this effort in the Senate. We are fortunate that our senators are equally dedicated to shipping on the Fourth Sea Coast.”
Baker, who is also President Emeritus of the International Longshoremen’s Association’s Great Lakes District Council, stressed that support for the dredging issue has been bipartisan and a sterling example of the region’s delegation coming together to achieve a common goal.