Levin harbor bill OK’d by committee

MARQUETTE – Language by U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Detroit, to make sure harbor maintenance funding collected from shippers is spent on dredging and other projects was included in a water resources bill was OK’d by a Senate committee.

The text of the Harbor Maintenance Act, which Levin introduced earlier this year, was included in the Water Resources Development Act of 2013, which the committee approved unanimously Wednesday.

“For too long, harbors in the Great Lakes and across the country have suffered from a maintenance backlog, while at the same time we’ve been spending only a portion of the available money in the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund,” Levin said.

The Harbor Maintenance Act is intended to help address the estimated $200 million backlog in necessary harbor dredging projects on the Great Lakes. Levin introduced the bipartisan bill with Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and the bill has 32 cosponsors, including U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing.

Earlier this year in testimony before the Environment and Public Works Committee, Levin pressed the panel to include his legislation, pointing out that the Great Lakes dredging backlog has become especially problematic for Great Lakes shippers due to the historically low water levels on the lakes.

Levin said he hopes to make improvements in the bill as it moves through the legislative process.

“When the full Senate considers the bill, I will work for improvements to make sure Great Lakes harbors receive the funding they need,” Levin said.

John Pepin can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206. His email address is jpepin@miningjournal.net.