Senators oppose ship tolls
The Mining Journal
Published March 10th, 2005
WASHINGTON - Two U.S. senators from Michigan are spearheading
an effort in the Senate to head off a Bush administration
plan to levy tolls on ships passing through the St. Lawrence
The tolls would cost Great Lakes shippers an estimated
$8 million, according to Democratic senators Debbie Stabenow
and Carl Levin.
Stabenow, Levin and other opponents of the proposal argue
that the toll would make goods and raw materials shipped
through the Great Lakes more expensive, eliminate waterfront
and maritime jobs, deny farmers access to foreign markets,
and drive shippers to other less environmentally friendly
and less safe means of transportation.
In a bipartisan letter to the Senate Budget Committee,
Stabenow, Levin and others said shippers coming to U.S.
markets already pay for maintenance of the seaway through
a harbor maintenance tax imposed in 1986. The Harbor Maintenance
Trust Fund created by this tax is projected to have a
surplus of $459 million by the end of fiscal year 2006.
Stabenow said the proposal hurts Michigan and other states
in an area where they are already suffering - jobs.
"At a time when we should be doing everything we
can to create jobs, once again a short-sighted proposal
from the administration could cost Michigan jobs,"
she said. "This proposal is bad for Michigan's economy
and for Great Lakes commerce."
"In a time where job creation should be our priority,
the president's proposal could harm our Great Lakes shipping
industry," Levin said. "We should be focusing
on attracting more business into our ports, not driving
The senators said the toll amounted to a tax on Great
Lakes business and industry. Approximately 40 million
to 50 million tons of cargo pass through the seaway each
"We are very concerned that this new toll fee could
drive commercial shipping away from the Great Lakes, which
would hurt our agricultural, steel and coal industries,
among others," Stabenow and Levin said in a joint
In addition to its negative impact on trade, transportation
infrastructure and jobs, the senators said the tolls amount
to double-dipping because of the harbor maintenance tax
already being levied.
"These tolls are unfair, inappropriate and a step
backward in our efforts to create and protect jobs in
Michigan and other Great Lakes states," they said.