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Great Lakes Group Calls for Override of Vetoed Water Bill

The Great Lakes shipping industry is calling on Congress to override President Bush's veto of legislation that will accelerate dredging and authorize construction of a second Poe-sized Lock at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. These provisions and others benefiting the Lakes are included in the Water Resources Development Act of 2007 vetoed by the president on Friday, November 2.

"The nation has not passed a Water Resources Development Act in seven years," said John D. Baker, President of Great Lakes Maritime Task Force, the largest coalition ever to represent Great Lakes shipping. "It is high time America started reinvesting in our port and waterway infrastructure. On the lakes, the dredging crisis is forcing vessels to leave cargo behind virtually every time they leave port. Our reliance on a single Poe-sized lock to connect Lake Superior to the lower four Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway jeopardizes our ability to maintain industrial production."

Baker, who is also President of the ILA's Great Lakes District. Council, further stressed a failure of the Poe Lock would cripple overseas exports from the Great Lakes.

The Water Resources Development Act of 2007 (H.R. 1495) was passed by wide margins in both the House and Senate.

"Great Lakes shipping is one of the backbones of the American economy," said James H.I. Weakley, 3rd Vice President of Great Lakes Maritime Task Force (GLMTF).

"Hundreds of thousands of family-sustaining jobs depend on the 200-plus million tons of iron ore, coal, limestone, grain and other cargos that move on the lakes each year. Congress must override the president's veto or the efficiency of Great Lakes shipping will continue to erode." Weakley, who is also president of Lake Carriers' Association, noted that lack of adequate dredging is forcing the largest U.S.-flag vessels on the lakes to lose 6,000 tons of cargo each trip.

A second Poe-sized Lock at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, is one of the most important infrastructure improvements on the Great Lakes in decades.

"Approximately 70 percent of U.S.-Flag carrying capacity is restricted to the Poe Lock," said Daniel L. Smith, 2nd Vice President of GLMTF. "If that lock was incapacitated by a structural failure or terrorist attack, the U.S.-flag Great Lakes fleet could not meet the needs of commerce. Trying to funnel Canadian and ocean-going vessels through the one remaining lock will produce a horrendous traffic jam," he said.

Smith, who is also National Executive Vice President of American Maritime Officers, noted the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers considers the Soo Locks the single point of failure that could cripple Great Lakes shipping.

"Waterborne commerce, on the lakes, rivers, and coasts, is key to our nation's economic wellbeing and national defense capabilities," said Patrick J. O'Hern, 1st Vice President of GLMTF, and Vice President -Contract Services for Bay Shipbuilding Company. "Congress must override this veto so America can begin rebuilding its ports and waterways," he said.

The Great Lakes Maritime Task Force was founded in Toledo, Ohio, in 1992 to promote domestic and international shipping on the Great Lakes. With 73 members, it is the largest coalition to ever speak for the Great Lakes shipping community and draws its membership from both labor and management representing U.S.-flag vessel operators, shipboard and longshore unions, port authorities, cargo shippers, terminal operators, shipyards and other Great Lakes interests. Its goals include restoring adequate funding for dredging of Great Lakes deep-draft ports and waterways, construction of a second Poe-sized lock at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan; protecting the nation's cabotage laws; maximizing the Lakes overseas trade; and opposing exports and increased diversions of Great Lakes water.

GLMTF members include: Ports of Indiana;

MICHIGAN: CMS Energy, DetroitiWayne County Carferry Service. Inc., Lakes Pilots Association, Luedtke Engineering Company, MCM Marine, Inc, Michigan Maritime Trades Port Council, O-N Minerals. Great Lakes Division, Pere Marquette Shipping Company, Ryba Marine Construction Co., Sargent Companies, Seafarers International Union, Soo Marine Supply. Inc., and Wirt Stone Docks;

MINNESOTA: Duluth Seaway Port Authority, Great Lakes Fleet, Inc., Key Lakes. Inc., Hallett Dock Company and Marine Tech. LLC.;

NEW YORK: American Steamship Company, Port of Oswego Authority, St. Lawrence Seaway Pilot's Assn.;

OHIO: American Maritime Officers, AFL – CIO, Cleveland-Cliffs Inc., Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority, Corus, CSX Transportation, Toledo Docks, Faulkner, Muskovitz & Phillips, Flats Oxbow Association, Grand River Navigation Company, Inc., Great Lakes District Council, ILA, AFL-CIO, ILA Lake Erie Coal & Ore Dock Council, ILA Local 1317, ILA Local 1768, inrl Organlzation of Masters, Mates & Pilots, Inri Ship Masters Association, The Interlake Steamship Company, Lafarge North America, Lake Carriers' Association, Midwest Terminals of Toledo Inri, Mittal Steel USA, Osborne Concrete & Stone Co., Pickands Mather Lake Services Company, Inc., Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, Toledo Port Council. MTD. AFL-CIO, United Steelworkers of America. District 1, United Steelworkers of America. Local 5000, Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway Co..

PENNSYLVANIA: Carmeuse Lime, Inc., Erie Shipbuilding. LLC, US Steel Corp., B+B Dredging Company, Norfolk Southern Corporation. WISCONSIN: Port Authority, Durocher Marine, Edw. C. Levy Co., Lake Michigan Bay Shipbuilding Company, Brown County Port & Solid Waste Dept., Midwest Energy Resources Company, The Port of Milwaukee,
Western Great Lakes Pilots Association.

WASHINGTON D.C.: American Great Lakes Ports Association, American Maritime Officers Service, AFL-CIO, American Shipbuilding Association, District No.1 -PCD, MEBA. AFL – CIO, Inri Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Kirkpatrick& Lockhart Preston Gates Ellis, LLP, Transportation Institute
For more information contact:
Glen G. Nekvasil, Secretary
Great Lakes Maritime Task Force
(216) 861-0592

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