AWO scores Michigan’s proposed locks closure

AWO scores Michigan’s proposed locks closure

The American Waterways Operators (AWO) cautions that a proposed lock closure would have a severe impact on Chicago-area businesses and the region’s economy, environment and quality of life.

The AWO said that barges transport millions of dollars worth of essential goods and commodities on waterways that would be shut down if the Chicago-area’s locks are closed. Such closure is proposed in a lawsuit filed Dec. 21, 2009, by the state of Michigan against the state of Illinois to prevent Asian carp, suspected to be in the vicinity of Lake Michigan, from entering those waters.

In an affidavit filed against the lawsuit, Lynn Muench, the AWO’s senior vice president/regional affairs, said that such closure would have “disastrous effects on the region’s economy.â€

“The barge and towing operators that move cargo, the shipyards that service the towing industry, and terminals that receive, ship and store cargo, would suffer massive loss of business as a result of the lock closures and other measures requested by Michigan, Muench stated. Furthermore, she said, the lock closure “would result in significant job losses, in the hundreds and perhaps thousands.â€

In the affidavit filed in the U.S. Supreme Court as part of the defendant brief from the state of Illinois, the AWO also said that closing the locks and moving cargo to truck and rail would “significantly increase harmful air emissions.â€

Finally, Muench stated that, because there are other waterway connections between the Mississippi River system and the Great Lakes, closing the locks “will ruin the area’s economy without halting the spread of the Asian carp.â€

Senate approves Khouri’s nomination to FMC

The Senate voted Dec. 24 to confirm the nomination of Michael A. Khouri to the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) for a term expiring June 30, 2011. 

As FMC commissioner, Khouri, an attorney with the Louisville, Ky.-based Pedley & Gordinier law firm, replaces Steven R. Blust, who has resigned. 

In private practice, Khouri dealt with transportation and maritime law. He has been president and COO of MERS/Economy Boat in Memphis, Tenn., and senior vice president of American Commercial Lines, based in Jeffersonville, Ind. He began his career as a deck crewman for Paducah, Ky.-based Crounse Corp., where he worked his way up to captain.

Meanwhile, the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee was expected to hold a confirmation hearing this month for David T. Matsuda, who has been nominated for the position of Maritime Administrator. Matsuda had been scheduled for a confirmation hearing Dec. 15, but a committee spokesman said that Matsuda’s hearing was postponed until “sometime in January.â€

Matsuda, who has been deputy maritime administrator since last July, served as acting assistant secretary for transportation policy from March 2009 until his appointment as MarAd deputy.

Papp named to succeed USCG commandant Allen

President Obama has nominated Vice Adm. Robert J. Papp Jr. as the next commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard. If approved by the Senate, Papp would become the 24th commandant of the Coast Guard, replacing Adm. Thad W. Allen in May 2010.

Papp currently serves as commander of the Coast Guard Atlantic Area and Defense Force East — functioning as the operational commander for all Coast Guard missions within the eastern half of the world. Prior to assuming command of the Atlantic Area, Papp served as the chief of staff of the Coast Guard in Washington, D.C. He was commander of the Ninth Coast Guard District from 2004 to 2006.

Papp’s Coast Guard career includes extensive tours on both land and sea, with service on six Coast Guard cutters and posts such as chief of the Capabilities Branch in the Defense Operations Division; chief of the Fleet Development Team, and chief of the Coast Guard’s Office of Congressional Affairs.

Obama’s support of lockage fee disappoints Calhoun of WCI

Rick Calhoun, president of Cargill Marine and Terminal Inc., said it was “disappointing that the Obama Administration would support a tax (lockage fee) that will discourage the use of barge transportation, the most energy efficient, environmentally sound mode of transportation in the U.S.†

In a statement following his election to chairman of the Waterways Council Inc., Calhoun said that just when the administration “is calling upon our citizens to be more energy efficient and environmentally responsible, this proposal is ill-conceived.†Calhoun said that recent studies have documented that barge transportation on the U.S. inland waterways system emits 28 percent less carbon dioxide per ton-mile than rail transportation and 72 percent less carbon dioxide per ton-mile than trucking.

Coast Guard eyes strapping standard for securing cargo

The U.S. Coast Guard is asking for comments on the best way to secure cargo in vehicles and containers in order to determine if a standardized or certified strapping system is needed.

Currently, the specific methods for securing cargo are left to the discretion of the individual or company packing the container. The Coast Guard is considering whether there is a need for a standardized certification or approval process for cargo securing systems.

Comments must be submitted to the Coast Guard’s online docket via by March 9, or reach the Docket Management Facility by that date. The facility’s address is Docket Management Facility (M-30), Department of Transportation, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Ave., SE, Washington, D.C. 20590-0001.

Seaway ends 50th anniversary season with record low cargo volumes

The Saint Lawrence Seaway concluded its 50th anniversary season Dec. 28 with the passage of JW Shelley through the Iroquois Lock en route to Lake Ontario.

The Welland Canal, which has been in operation since 1932, remained open to navigation until Dec. 30, as CSL Tadoussac transited Lock 1 and cleared Port Weller to enter Lake Ontario.

Total Seaway cargo volume for 2009 was estimated at 30.5 million metric tons, the lowest volume since the early 1960s, U.S. and Canada Seaway administrators said. The 25 percent decrease from 2008 was attributed to the depth of the recession, which sharply curtailed movements of iron ore and steel on the waterway.

The Montreal-Lake Ontario section of the Seaway handled 20.6 million metric tons of cargo in the 2009 navigation season, down from 29.3 million tons in 2008. Grain topped the list of commodities handled by the section: 7.8 million tons in 2009, up from 7.3 million tons in 2008. Iron ore was down from 9 million metric tons in 2008 to 3.7 million tons last year.

More hearings set for Missouri River study

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has scheduled more sessions in a series of public meetings on the Missouri River Authorized Purposes Study.

The sessions are set for Jan. 26 in Pierre, S.D.; Jan. 28 in Billings, Mont.; Feb. 4 in Columbia, Mo.; Feb. 23 in New Orleans and Feb. 25 in Memphis, Tenn.

The goal of the study is to determine if changes are warranted in the eight authorized purposes established by the Flood Control Act of 1944. The purposes are flood control, hydropower, water supply, irrigation, navigation, recreation, water quality, and fish and wildlife. Infrastructure operated by the Corps and the Bureau of Reclamation is included in the study.

About the Author:

Carlo Salzano has been in journalism since graduating from La Salle University in 1948 as a chemistry major. That’s right, chemistry. He began his career as a copy boy at the Philadelphia Inquirer, before moving on to United Press International in Philadelphia, Charleston, West Virgina, Baltimore and Washington. After 14 years, Carlo joined Traffic World magazine and stayed on for 23 years, before retiring as editor in 1990. A majority of Carlo’s time at Traffic World was spent covering the maritime community and he continued on in the maritime field while freelancing throughout his “retirement.” He is married and has three children and eight grandchildren.

By Professional Mariner Staff