Great Lakes carriers: Dredging could be economic stimulus
U.S.-flag vessels operating on the Great Lakes moved 11.1 million net tons of cargo in October, a slight decrease from a year ago, according to the Lake Carriers’ Association.
“The downturn in steel production did not translate into a drop in iron ore cargoes in October,” the group said. “Loadings in U.S. bottoms actually increased by 160,000 net tons. However, five U.S.-flag Lakers are now laid-up for the year, primarily because of the slowdown at the nation’s steel mills.”
For the year, U.S.-flag carriage stands at 85.2 million net tons, a slight increase of 200,000 net tons compared to a year ago, but down about 1 percent or 800,000 net tons from the five-year average for the January-October timeframe.
The group also reiterating its call for dredging of harbors on the lakes, saying it is preventing ships from being used to carry their maximum cargo volumes.
“With the water level on Lake Superior receding, the largest vessels were trimming some 2,000 tons off their loads compared to just a month ago,” the group said. “The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers needs to remove 17 million cubic yards of sediment from ports throughout the system, but Federal funding remains inadequate.”
The association said, “Restoring the Great Lakes navigation system to project dimensions would provide a real economic stimulus to the economy at no additional cost to the taxpayer or federal government. The Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) that pays for dredging with taxes on waterborne commerce has a surplus of nearly $5 billion. The Lakes dredging crisis could be solved with an allocation of about $230 million, or less than 5 percent of the surplus in the HMTF.”
Lake Carriers’ Association represents 16 American corporations that operate 63 U.S.-flag vessels on the Great Lakes.