Sen. Baldwin meets with Twin Ports stakeholders to discuss economy of Great Lakes

By KBJR News 1

August 8, 2014 Updated Aug 8, 2014 at 9:38 PM CDT

Superior, WI (NNCNOW.com) - Democratic U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin paid a visit to the Twin Ports Friday afternoon for an update on the economic status of Great Lakes trade.

The visit comes two months after the passage of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act, which beefs up dredging efforts throughout the Great Lakes commercial shipping channels.

Senator Baldwin met with port stakeholders from Midwest Energy, and the Duluth Seaway Port Authority, among others, during Thursday's visit to Superior. She also toured the Fraser Shipyard for project updates.

Senator Baldwin says there's no denying the impact that the WRRDA bill will have on Great Lakes states.

"We know how important these waterways are to our state's economy, our state's environment, our state's tourism industry," listed Baldwin, "a lot of the direction provided by the Water Resources Development Act are going to help in all those arenas."

Specifically, Senator Baldwin says the WRRDA bill eliminates the need for Great Lakes ports to compete with one another for limited funding and resources by establishing the shipping channels as a single navigation system, without size–based priorities.

"..and try to make sure that the resources are used in a manner that compliments all the actors," added Baldwin.

The visit was welcome, says Duluth Seaway Port Authority executive director Vanta Coda, who has one clear message he hopes U.S. lawmakers listen to: "promote and fund infrastructure projects for the freight transportation system," said Coda, after Thursday's tour.

While the WRRDA bill authorizes increased Great Lakes dredging efforts, Coda says appropriations for the work are another story.
Having the federal government actually write that check is what Coda and others were advocating Thursday.

"It's the next step into meeting full appropriations for the Harbor Maintenance Tax," said Coda, "and actually using all the money that is collected for harbor maintenance for dredging."

The WRRDA bill also diverts 10 percent of all new maintenance and dredging funds to the Great Lakes.

Senator Baldwin also toured the Twin Ports VA Clinic during her stop in Superior.

Billy Wagness
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