Peters Named Legislator of the Year by Great Lakes Maritime Task Force

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) today was recognized by the Great Lakes Maritime Task Force (GLMTF) as Legislator of the Year for his work to promote commerce and support ports in the Great Lakes, as well as protect the Great Lakes. As Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and a member of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, Peters has led efforts to increase funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, protect the Great Lakes from a potential oil spill, and support local communities facing rising water levels, coastal erosion, and flooding that have put homes, property, and communities at risk, among other accomplishments.

“The Great Lakes are more than just an economic engine and ecological treasure: they are simply in our DNA as Michiganders,” said Senator Peters. “It’s critical we do everything in our power to protect and preserve the Great Lakes for future generations – and that’s always been my focus. I’m deeply honored to have earned this distinction and am thankful to have excellent partners like the Great Lakes Maritime Task Force that work tirelessly to improve the lives of Michiganders.”

“The Great Lakes Maritime Task Force is grateful for Senator Peters leadership and ambition to ensure the Great Lakes remain protected and forever the pilot light of the North American economy. The Fourth Sea Coast needs relentless champions like Senator Peters,” stated John Clemons, President of the GLMTF.

“The Great Lakes have and continue to be at the heart of Senator Peters’ leadership. His deckplate approach and unrelenting support have allowed the Port of Monroe to prosper while setting the course for our future as a sustainable seaport. I am humbly appreciative that the Senator’s efforts are being recognized with this award as his identity as a true champion of the Great Lakes maritime industry is rivaled only by the admiration we have for his efforts,” stated Paul LaMarre, GLMTF member and Port Director for Monroe, Michigan.


Senator Peters recognized by the Great Lakes Maritime Task Force as Legislator of the Year. To download a high-resolution photo, click on the image above. Image is courtesy of Senator Peters’ office

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) is essential to clean-up and restoration efforts throughout the region, which is why Peters successfully worked across the aisle to secure the first increase in GLRI funding since the program was established a decade ago. The bipartisan infrastructure law that Peters helped pass also includes $1 billion for the GLRI, which is the largest amount of funding provided for the program to date. Peters also cosponsored legislation that was signed into law earlier this year reauthorizing GLRI for another five years.

To further his work to keep the Great Lakes clean, Peters authored and passed legislation into law to create the U.S. Coast Guard National Center of Expertise for the Great Lakes to study the impacts of oil spills in freshwater environments. The inspiration for this bill came in 2017 when the then-Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard told Peters at a hearing that the agency was not prepared for an oil spill in the Great Lakes, saying that more science and research was needed. Last month, Peters announced that the Center of Expertise will be headquartered in Michigan with locations in Sault Ste. Marie and Ann Arbor.

To support local communities facing rising water levels, coastal erosion, and flooding that have put homes, property, and communities at risk, Peters authored and passed the STORM Act into law. The bill authorizes FEMA to help states establish revolving loan funds that local governments could access to help mitigate the impacts of rising water levels, coastal erosion, and other natural disasters in a more cost-effective way. Peters secured an initial $500 million for the program in the bipartisan infrastructure law.

Peters also understands that the Great Lakes are critical to Michigan’s economy, which is why he has worked to address cargo challenges at places like the Port of Monroe that delivers critical products to families and business across the state and region. Peters also introduced the bipartisan Great Lakes Winter Commerce Act to codify the U.S. Coast Guard’s icebreaking mission on the Great Lakes and increase the icebreaking capacity of the Great Lakes fleet. Icebreaking is critical for commerce in the Great Lakes, and increasing icebreaking capacity will help the many businesses and workers that rely on the maritime industry to transport their goods to market and grow our regional economy.

Finally, as a former Lt. Commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve and a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Peters introduced the CADETS Act to expand the Student Incentive Payment Program eligibility age for financial assistance to cadets who attended one of the six State Maritime Academies and commit to a post-graduation service obligation to include any qualified student who will meet the age requirements for enlistment in the U.S. Navy Reserve at their time of graduation. In return for their commitment to serve, cadets can receive up to $32,000 in this incentive payment funding over four years to help offset the cost of tuition, uniforms, books, and living costs.

“As a former Naval Reservist, Senator Peters recognizes the importance of this program to both the cadets and our national security,” said Jim Weakley, GLMTF’s Vice President and co-chair of Great Lakes Maritime Academy’s Board of Visitors.