06.10.15

Senators Peters, Stabenow Urge Funding to Upgrade Soo Locks, Protect Great Lakes Economy

WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. Senators Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow today urged Office of Management and Budget Director Sean Donovan to approve the Army Corps of Engineers' request to help replace Sault Ste. Marie's Davis and Sabin Locks with a lock of similar size to the Poe Lock. Currently, 70 percent of cargo vessels are forced to use the Poe Lock because they are too large to use the others. Replacing the smaller locks would ensure the safe and efficient transport of cargo through the Great Lakes. Senator Stabenow is the Co-Chair of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force. Senator Peters joined this year after serving on the House Great Lakes Task Force. 

The letter reads in part: "The Soo Locks, which consists of four parallel locks, is crucial to the safe and efficient transport of approximately 10,000 vessels that carry 80 million tons of cargo annually through the Great Lakes ... An unscheduled outage at the Poe Lock would prevent the passage of large vessels carrying commodities critical to our national security and our regional and national economies. A 30-day unscheduled outage at the Poe Lock would result in an estimated $160 million in economic losses."

The Soo Locks are critically important to Michigan's economy and our national security. Iron ore, a commodity vital to our nation's defense and manufacturing industry, is only able to travel from mine to mill via ship in the Great Lakes through the Soo Locks. In March, Senators Stabenow and Peters urged the Army Corps Assistant Secretary Jo-Ellen Darcy to request support for this funding.

The full text of the letter to the Office of Management and Budget can be found below:

Dear Director Donovan:

We write to urge Office of Management and Budget to expeditiously approve the reprograming request submitted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that will fund an Economic Reevaluation Report (ERR) for replacing the Davis and Sabin Locks at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan (Soo Locks). 

The Soo Locks, which consists of four parallel locks, is crucial to the safe and efficient transport of approximately 10,000 vessels that carry 80 million tons of cargo annually through the Great Lakes / St. Lawrence Seaway System. Currently, 70% of the cargo that transits the Soo Locks must utilize the Poe Lock due to size restrictions. The Davis Lock constructed in 1918 and the Sabin Lock built a year later are no longer capable of handling vessel traffic. 

An unscheduled outage at the Poe Lock would prevent the passage of large vessels carrying commodities critical to our national security and our regional and national economies. A 30-day unscheduled outage at the Poe Lock would result in an estimated $160 million in economic loses. The ERR will examine the benefits and costs of replacing the Davis and Sabin Locks with a new lock capable of accommodating these ships and creating the redundancy necessary to ensure unfettered commerce through the Great Lakes.

The pending reprogramming request is a critical step in the consideration of this important project, and we urge OMB to approve the funding transfer in a timely manner. 

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