The Metal Trades Department, AFL-CIO sent the following letter to Senators Baldwin, Gillibrand, Schumer, Duckworth, Durbin, Klobuchar, Franken, Donnelly, Brown, Casey, Stabenow, and Peters urging them to enact the Commercial Vessel Incidental Discharge Act (CVIDA).

July 19, 2017

The Honorable Tammy Baldwin
709 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510

Dear Senator Baldwin:

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 vessel discharge laws and regulations undermines efforts to protect Great Lakes waterways.  We understand that CVIDA has been incorporated into the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2017, S. 1129, and that this legislation could be considered in the U.S. Senate soon.We also 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 the region’s steel production, manufacturing, energy, construction, and agriculture industries and the hundreds of thousands of jobs in those industries.

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 eliminates the laker exemption in the future needs to explicitly weigh the economic impacts of such a decision on the industries and employees that depend on the lakers against the most probable (not just any possible) environmental benefits.

We understand that the Lake Carriers’ Association recently forwarded language for your consideration in an effort to respond to concerns raised by environmental groups and state government officials.  This is a good faith effort to work out a compromise.  We urge you in the strongest possible terms to accept this proposal and to enact CVIDA.

Sincerely,

James Hart,
President