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Legislative Update: Vessel Discharge Bill Would Negatively Impact Michigan’s Iron, Steel Industries

Recently, the Great Lakes Metro Chambers Coalition (GLMCC) joined the Lake Carriers’ Association in calling on Congress to reconsider proposed amendments to the Commercial Vessel Incidental Discharge Act (CVIDA), which would subject vessels that operate exclusively within the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River to the same regulations governing ballast water on commercial vessels engaged in interstate and international commerce.

While the GLMCC understands the need to protect the Great Lakes from invasive species, subjecting “lakers” to these restrictive regulations negatively impacts the region’s shipping industry, which brings thousands of jobs to the area and carries important cargo for industries such as steel and iron manufacturing.

The Detroit Regional Chamber joined GLMCC and other Great Lakes chambers in a letter outlining these concerns in a letter to U.S. Sens. Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow. View the letter below:

Dear Senators Stabenow and Peters:

There is no issue more critical for the Great Lakes shipping industry today than enactment of the Commercial Vessel Incidental Discharge Act (CVIDA). The current patchwork of federal and state vessel discharge laws and regulations undermines efforts to uniformly protect the Great Lakes. CVIDA has been incorporated into the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2017, S. 1129, and this legislation could be considered in the U.S. Senate soon.

We understand that you are working diligently to craft CVIDA text that protects the Great Lakes without overwhelming the American shipping industry and the critically important supply chain that it supports. As you know, the Great Lakes U.S.-flag maritime industry is crucial to Michigan’s steel production, manufacturing, energy, construction, and agriculture sectors and the hundreds of thousands of jobs they sustain.

CVIDA is critical to the U.S.-flag fleet because it recognizes the necessity to treat commercial vessels that stay in the Great Lakes (“lakers”) differently than vessels that enter the Great Lakes from the ocean. Any provision in CVIDA that potentially removes the laker exemption in the future needs to explicitly weigh realistic environmental benefits for the lakes against the economic impacts of such a decision on the industries and employees that depend on the lakers.

The Lake Carriers’ Association forwarded language for your consideration in an effort to respond to concerns raised by groups and individuals opposing good faith efforts to work out a compromise solution. We urge you in the strongest possible terms to accept this proposal and to enact CVIDA.


The Great Lakes Metro Chambers Coalition