Article published February 14, 2009 Great Lakes shippers
touting their green side By TOM HENRY BLADE STAFF
environmentalists for decades, the Great Lakes shipping
industry wants the public to consider its greener side as
President Obama calls for more energy efficiency.
The industry is circulating a new U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers report that suggests the positive
environmental impacts and cost savings of Great Lakes shipping
have been overlooked when compared to ground-based
transportation sectors such as trains and tractor-trailers.
The report also puts a value on Great Lakes
shipping at $3.6 billion a year. That's the first time the
value of the region's shipping has been quantified in dollars,
said Glen G. Nekvasil, vice president of communications for
the Lake Carriers' Association, a Cleveland-based trade group
that represents ships that move cargo exclusively within the
Great Lakes region.
The Great Lakes navigation system "plays a
key role in preserving our nation's fuel" by transporting
goods more efficiently than any form of ground transportation,
according to the report, called "Great Lakes Navigation
System: Economic Strength to the Nation."
"For example, a Great Lakes carrier travels
607 miles on one gallon of fuel per ton of cargo. In contrast,
a truck travels a mere 59 miles on one gallon of fuel per ton
of cargo and a freight train travels only 202 miles on one
gallon of fuel per ton of cargo," the report said.
The Corps, which dredges the Great Lakes
shipping channel, also credited the industry for releasing
fewer greenhouse gases on a pound-by-pound basis.
"A cargo of 1,000 tons transported by a Great Lakes carrier
produces 90 percent less carbon dioxide as compared to the
same cargo transported by truck and 70 percent less than the
same cargo transported by rail," its report said.
Toledo is one of 63 Great Lakes ports.
The report came on the heels of testimony
that James Weakley, Lake Carriers' Association president,
delivered to the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and
Infrastructure Jan. 22 while calling for system improvements
as part of the economic stimulus package.
The findings will be used for more lobbying
efforts, including the Great Lakes Commission's annual Great
Lakes Days with area congressmen Feb. 23-25, Mr. Nekvasil
"It's more important than ever that Great
Lakes shipping remains viable," he said. "We would certainly
hope this is an eye-opener for some people. This is the kind
of thing the whole Congress and whole administration [need] to
But the National Wildlife Federation, one of
several environmental groups that has fought the shipping
industry in court over invasive species and other Great Lakes
issues, said the industry is premature with its attempted
"At least $200 million of damage a year is
caused by invasive species, and a large percentage of that has
been introduced by the shipping industry," Jordan Lubetkin,
National Wildlife Federation spokesman, said.
Mr. Nekvasil said invasive species have
"caused a lot of contentiousness" between environmentalists
and the shipping industry, although most of the exotics have
been brought to North America by foreign vessels his
association doesn't represent.
"They're lumping us all in with everybody,"
Great Lakes ships moved 173 million tons of
cargo in 2006, 10 percent of all U.S. waterborne domestic
traffic, according to the Corps.
Contact Tom Henry
at: email@example.com or 419-724-6079.
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