Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Groups Say Seaway Study Missed Sustainable Shipping Opportunity

Jan 22: According to a joint release from several organizations, in the newly released Final Report of the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway Study [See WIMS 11/26/07], the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has backed away from Seaway expansion, but missed an enormous opportunity to develop a blueprint for a sustainable shipping system argue forty-four groups from across the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River region. The governments of Canada and the United States released the binational study report on November 26, 2007.

Jennifer Caddick, Save the River Executive Director said, "The Corps has finally recognized what communities along the St. Lawrence River and Great Lakes have known for some time -- expansion is the wrong direction for the River and Lakes. Unfortunately, this report falls short of articulating the right direction by trivializing the environmental impacts of shipping on the Lakes and River." Jennifer Nalbone, Campaign Director from Great Lakes United said, "The Final Report appears to justify 'business as usual' by conveniently ignoring the impacts of invasive species and climate change. Environment Canada estimate hundreds of millions are spent every year by Great Lakes communities trying to deal with zebra mussels and other invasive species introduced by ocean-vessels. The viability of future navigation with the looming impacts of climate change on levels and flows is also a huge gap in the report’s credibility."

The sentiments were expressed in a letter sent to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in response to the study. The letter was signed by 44 groups in the United States and Canada, representing a diverse community of interests ranging from environmental, conservation, fishing, boating, residential, labor, tribal, and First Nations. While the binational report claims to envision a "truly sustainable" navigation system, it fails to address many of the destructive practices of the shipping industry on the Great Lakes. Ranking at the top of these threats are invasive species, which hitch a ride in the ballast tanks of ocean-going vessels and have caused tremendous damage to the ecosystem of the River and Lakes. The binational report also fails to prepare the shipping industry for a potentially enormous reduction of vessel capacity under future climate change scenarios.

Access a release from the groups (click here). Access the letter and complete list of the signing organizations (click here). Access the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway Study website and links to the final report, FAQs and related information (click here).