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Marine Log

Bill to boost short sea shipping

Representatives Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-OH) and Phil English (R-PA), Senior Members of the House Ways and Means Committee, have reintroduced H.R., 981, the "Great Lakes Short Sea Shipping Enhancement Act of 2007."

The legislation is designed to improve the efficiency of commerce in Cleveland (Ohio), Erie (Pennsylvania), and the surrounding Great Lakes region and ports.

Under current law, the Harbor Maintenance Tax (HMT) is assessed on cargo transported between U.S. ports, and cargo imported to U.S. ports from other countries. Because the HMT is only assessed on cargo if it moves by ship, the tax serves as a disincentive to move trucks and their freight by water. As such, the tax actually contributes to greater highway congestion which results in choked border crossings, increased fuel consumption, and increased air pollution.

The Great Lakes Short Sea Shipping Enhancement Act would provide a narrow exemption to the HMT for the movement of non-bulk commercial cargo by water in the Great Lakes region. This includes the movement of freight and people between U.S. ports on the Great Lakes and between U.S. and Canadian ports on the Great Lakes.

By removing the HMT as a disincentive, this legislation will encourage the development of new shipping services on the Great Lakes. This could lead to the creation of new jobs in the maritime sector and enable commerce, such as steel and automotive parts, to flow more efficiently in and out of Cleveland and Erie.