The following article was released by the Great Lakes Maritime Task Force, of which American Maritime Officers is a member. The coalition is the largest to speak for the Great Lakes Navigation System.
GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN - On Friday, July 22, 2022, the Great Lakes Maritime Task Force (GLMTF) recognized the unwavering commitment of Wisconsin Congressman Mike Gallagher to protect and advance the Great Lakes maritime supply chain during a ceremony held at the U.S. Venture, Inc. facility in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
Congressman Gallagher has spearheaded legislation that invests in shipbuilding on the Great Lakes, improves the maritime supply chain during the winter, and ensures the Great Lakes Navigation System remains viable for years to come.
Congressman Gallagher introduced the Supplying Help to Infrastructure in Ports, Yards, and America's Repair Docks (SHIPYARD) Act of 2021 that would provide $25 billion to make investments needed to optimize, improve, and rebuild shipyard facilities, electrical infrastructure, environmental systems, and the equipment of public and private shipyards in the U.S. that support the U.S. Navy fleet. "At a time when China is commissioning three ships in a single day, we desperately need to strengthen the American shipbuilding industrial base to expand, support, and service the fleet," said Rep. Gallagher. "The bipartisan, bicameral SHIPYARD Act makes critical investments to better ensure shipyards across the country, such as Marinette Marine, can build the Navy the nation needs."
He also introduced the Great Lakes Winter Commerce Act, a bill that would clearly define the U.S. Coast Guard's (USCG) responsibility for icebreaking on the Great Lakes. Currently, the USCG conducts Great Lakes icebreaking based on an 85-year-old Executive Order that fails to clearly define the USCG's mission. This bill would update that mission to help ensure it meets the modern demands of commerce in the Great Lakes region. "In cold winter months, icebreaking helps keep our Great Lakes economy moving. But a lack of sufficient icebreaking in recent years has shown that Congress needs to modernize the Coast Guard's icebreaking mission on the Great Lakes," said Rep. Gallagher. "The Great Lakes Winter Commerce Act is a bipartisan, bicameral bill codifying an icebreaking performance standard to meet the reasonable demands of commerce. This will help ensure that small businesses in Northeast Wisconsin can continue shipping goods from point A to point B - no matter the month or the weather."
Congressman Gallagher was a staunch supporter of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) 2020. He ensured a 13% set-aside in the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund for the Great Lakes Navigation System. Previous legislation included funding for small harbors like the Port of Green Bay but failed to sufficiently increase the funding to adequate levels. This bill increased the amount allotted to harbors on the Great Lakes Navigation System from 10% to 13% with actual funding levels this year approaching 15%.
"Congressman Gallagher has helped to solidify thousands of good paying jobs for the hard-working people of Wisconsin. U.S. shipyards are critical to our national defense and Mike Gallagher continues to make that a priority," stated Craig Perciavalle, Vice President and General Manager of Bay Shipbuilding.
"At a time when the American supply chain is struggling, Congressman Gallagher championed critical legislation to rebuild Great Lakes ports and waterways. The Port of Green Bay is grateful for the passage of WRDA 2020 and the effort Congressman Gallagher put in to ensure an equitable portion of funding for the Great Lakes Navigation System," stated Dean Haen, director of the Brown County Port and Resource Recovery Department. He continued, "The Great Lakes Maritime Task Force's Legislator of the Year Award is a fitting tribute to Rep. Gallagher and acknowledges all that he has done for our region and our industry."
"Congressman Gallagher's support for U.S. merchant mariners, Wisconsin ports, and Wisconsin shipbuilding drives economic stability in the Great Lakes region and in the nation. Simply put, he helps to create family sustaining jobs for thousands," stated Mark Ruge, president of the Wisconsin Domestic Maritime Coalition.
"Mike Gallagher invests in the American worker protecting sailors from damaging ice floes, advancing U.S. shipbuilding, and keeping the maritime supply chain moving on the nation's Fourth Sea Coast," stated John Baker, International Longshoremen's Association and Great Lakes Maritime Task Force vice president.
"The work done by Congressman Gallagher to correct years of neglect to the Great Lakes Navigation System during the winter months is monumental. The Great Lakes Winter Commerce Act is a great step in the right direction. In addition, the support Congressman Gallagher provided to get the Great Lakes designated as a navigation system with a guaranteed allocation of money from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund will undoubtedly serve the Great Lakes region for decades to come and that is why he is our Legislator of the Year," stated Jim Weakley, president of the Great Lakes Maritime Task Force.
"The importance of the Great Lakes cannot be overstated. Here in Northeast Wisconsin, these lakes are crucial to not just our economy, but to our way of life, and it's critical we do everything we can to preserve these national treasures for generations to come," said Rep. Gallagher. "It's an honor to be named the 2022 Legislator of the Year by the Great Lakes Maritime Task Force, and I look forward to continuing my work to both protect the Great Lakes and expand opportunities for the businesses that rely on them."
The presentation of the award was made at the U.S. Venture, Inc. facility in Green Bay. The President and CEO of U.S. Venture, John Schmidt, stated, "The Port of Green Bay serves as a critical link in the supply chain for gasoline, diesel, and renewable energy products supplied to Northeastern Wisconsin. We appreciate and commend Congressman Gallagher for his continued support of the Port and the Great Lakes."