Proos urges action to maintain harbors

LANSING—State Sen. John Proos has co-sponsored a resolution in the Michigan Senate calling on the U.S. Congress to ensure funds collected from shippers are used exclusively as intended: to maintain and dredge the nation’s harbors.

“Proper harbor maintenance is critical to the port’s economic viability and the financial bottom line of shippers and importers,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “A lack of dredging in Southwest Michigan harbors is forcing ship operators to carry lighter loads, costing them millions of dollars.”

Senate Resolution 97 calls on Congress to ensure that the amounts credited to the federal Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund are used solely for the dredging, infrastructure, operation and maintenance of federally authorized ports. Congress established a federal harbor maintenance tax on shippers to fund harbor operations and maintenance at U.S. ports.

“This fund has a balance of nearly $6 billion, but the critical dredging needs of Great Lakes harbors have not been met,” Proos said. “$1.5 billion in maintenance taxes was collected from shippers last year but only $758 million was spent to dredge harbors in Michigan and other coastal states.

“Sustaining a healthy harbor is important on several fronts: It supports Southwest Michigan jobs in an increasingly global economy, fosters entrepreneurship and protects our state’s great natural resources.”

The resolution was been referred to the Senate Natural Resources, Environment and Great Lakes Committee for consideration.