Senators Klobuchar, Franken Fight to Prevent Disruption Great Lakes Shipping

By KBJR News 1

Senators Klobuchar, Franken Fight to Prevent Disruption Great Lakes Shipping

December 21, 2012 Updated Dec 21, 2012 at 5:30 PM CDT

Washington, D.C. (NNCNOW.com) - Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken are calling on their colleagues to support action to prevent the disruption of shipping on the Great Lakes.

This year’s drought has led to low water levels on the Great Lakes that threaten to make cargo shipping—which is critical to commerce in Minnesota—more difficult.

In a letter to Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Thad Cochran (R-MS) of the Appropriations Committee, Klobuchar and Franken, along with two other senators asked that support for efforts to dredge the Great Lakes’ harbors and channels be included in legislation currently being considered on the Senate floor. Additional dredging is needed to help boats navigate the low water levels.

“The Great Lakes are a crucial artery of commerce for businesses in Minnesota,” said Klobuchar. “This year’s drought has been tough enough on our farmers and businesses, and we need to take immediate action to ensure that they can continue to use these waterways to transport their goods and lift up local economies.”

"Shipping on the Great Lakes supports thousands of jobs and hundreds of local businesses in Minnesota, and we need to make sure this critical industry isn't crippled by low water levels and insufficient dredging," said Sen. Franken. "This year's drought has put many harbors and channels on the Great Lakes at risk of becoming impassable in the months to come. I pressed my colleagues to include funding to dredge these waterways because we need to make sure our shipping industry, and the people it employs, are safe from harm."

The Great Lakes navigational system contains 139 federal harbors and waterways critical to the region’s economy. The system supports 129,000 U.S. jobs, contributes $18 billion to the economy, provides $2.7 billion in tax revenues, and saves the country $3.6 billion compared to alternative transportation modes.