Senate committee launches Great Lakes maritime study

The Senate Commerce Committee approved S. 2717, the Maritime Authorization and Enhancement Act for Fiscal Year 2019 on April 25. The legislation authorizes programs of the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD).

Through the leadership of Senator Gary Peters (D-MI), the legislation launches a new comprehensive study of the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Seaway system with a focus on competitiveness. Unlike previous studies, the new effort will examine the cost structure of Great Lakes cargo routing, as well as the cost of competing transportation options. The study will examine federal and state subsidies, tax preferences and other market distorting policies.

Specifically, the study will examine the following:

  • Typical cargo routings
  • Cost profile of each routing
  • Port infrastructure quality
  • Intermodal connections
  • Competing transportation options
  • Taxes and fees imposed on vessels
  • Marketing efforts to increase shipments
  • Subsidies
  • Icebreaking capabilities
  • The condition of navigation infrastructure

This study will be the second significant analysis of the Great Lakes navigation system. The General Accountability Office is also working on a Great Lakes shipping study, although the focus of that effort is less clear.

Both studies will highlight the challenges confronted by the waterway and provide a foundation and road map for follow-up action in Congress.

Maritime Editorial