Marquette Mining Journal: A lake freighter UP CLOSE

U.S. Sen. Gary Peters visits Hon. James L. Oberstar, considers shipping vital to Michigan’s economy

MARQUETTE - The importance of Great Lakes shipping to the Upper Peninsula was the focus of U.S. Sen. Gary Peters' trip to Marquette Monday.

A Democrat from downstate Bloomfield Hills, Peters got on board the Hon. James L. Oberstar at the Lake Superior & Ishpeming ore dock in the Upper Harbor to discuss the topic.

However, the sights and sounds of taconite pellets being dumped into the boat's interior were not the only things that captured Peters' attention. It also was the future of the U.S. Coast Guard's ice-breaking capacity and the future of the shipping industry in general.

"We've got to keep this industry vibrant," said Peters, who serves on a commerce committee that oversees shipping. "I'm all about making sure we have good paying jobs in Michigan. We've got to make sure this operation continues."

However, the type of shipping that concerns him the most is the shipping that takes place on the Great Lakes, he stressed, and that means ensuring the Soo Locks are available for boat operations.

Peters also has responsibilities for the Coast Guard, and he said he wants to make sure it has the needed capability to keep shipping lanes open.

He said one of his focuses is to see the Coast Guard has the necessary ice-breaking capacity, especially after the last two winters when complete or nearly complete freezing of the Great Lakes occurred, straining its resources.

By:  Christie Bleck