That's a Lock!
Soo Locks Expansion Project Gets Big Boost as U.S. Army Corps Releases Economic Study Requested by Nolan
Thousand-foot-long laker ships like the Great Lakes Trader move the equivalent of 700 rail car loads of Minnesota Iron Range iron ore through the Soo Locks and on to steel mills and manufacturing facilities throughout the Great Lakes region.
Expansion of the Soo Locks, which are so vital to our national economy, our national security, and particularly to the Port of Duluth and Minnesota's Iron Range, took a big step forward last week with release of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers economicstudy I requested more than two years ago. The results of the study underscore the importance of the $922 million project at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan to the future of Great Lakes navigation and literally millions of good paying jobs.
The report from the U.S. Army Corps came just a month after the House passed my bipartisan amendment expressing Congress’s view that construction of a new lock at the Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan facility is vital to our national economy and national security.
Among numerous findings favorable to the Soo Locks expansion, first authorized by Congress way back in 1986, is that the economic benefits of a new lock would outweigh the costs of construction and maintenance by $44.7 million every year – a benefit to cost ratio of 2.42 to 1.
In terms of our region, the Soo Locks are the gateway linking the Port of Duluth and Lake Superior to the rest of the Great Lakes chain, supplying millions of tons of Iron Range taconite to the giant steel mills that underpin our manufacturing economy and our national defense.
As we have repeatedly pointed out, the Department of Homeland Security has determined that about 13% of our Gross National Product (GNP) must clear the locks every year on 1000-foot long laker ships, most of which originate from the Port of Duluth. According to the Department, an unexpected closure lasting six months would cost 11 million Americans their jobs, throwing the Nation into a depression.
The Homeland Security study further concluded that within six weeks of an unexpected closure at the Soo Locks, 75 percent of all U.S. steel production would cease and there would be a $1.1 trillion decrease in economic activity. The steel shutdown would reverberate through the supply chain, closing down Iron Range mines and production of automobiles, farm equipment, appliances and products necessary for our national defense.
So the stakes are high, and over the coming months I will continue to reach across the aisle and work with my colleagues to help build bipartisan support for the funds the Army Corps is expected to request to begin construction on the seven to ten year project as early as 2020.
We will keep you posted as events proceed. Meanwhile, I want to hear your thoughts. Feel free to contact any of our offices listed below or send me an email.
Nolan Champions New Campaign to Pass the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA)
Our daughters and granddaughters deserve to grow up in an America free of any vestige of sex discrimination. That’s what Alice Paul was all about, and what the Equal Rights Amendment is all about.
The long fight to pass the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the Constitution of the United States is gathering fresh and powerful energy. Ninety-five years after suffragist Alice Paul first outlined the ERA at a women’s rights gathering in Seneca Falls, New York, numerous members of Congress, including me, are reintroducing the ERA.
Requiring passage by Congress and at least 38 states, House Joint Resolution 33 amends the Constitution to prohibit discrimination based on sex. Throughout her life, Alice Paul argued that unless equal rights are written into the framework of our government, they are never really secure. And she was correct.
The ERA originally passed both houses of Congress in 1972, with a seven-year deadline to be approved by 38 states. As a young state legislator, I was proud to champion the ERA, helping lay the groundwork for Minnesota to become one of eight to pass the measure in 1973. Unfortunately, the movement suffered a tough blow when the ERA fell 3 states short by the deadline in 1979 – but those of us who support the amendment have never given up.
The simple truth is that economic inequality, pregnancy discrimination, violence against women, and other forms of discrimination are still pervasive and in many cases still leave women without effective legal resources. State laws are not uniform, and federal laws are not comprehensive. Moreover, these laws can be rolled back anytime. That why the ERA is so necessary – a legal and moral exclamation point to our Constitution prohibiting discrimination based on sex throughout our Nation for all time.
EPA Goes "Scott-Free," but GOP
Anti-Environmental Policies Stay Dirty and Dangerous
Our old friend Steve Sack, Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, nailed it again in April with this gem depicting now former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt lounging in the middle of the Washington “swamp” the President promised to drain.
After months of allegations, scandals, and controversies over his ethics and management, Scott Pruitt resigned last week as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and rightly so. The EPA needs a real leader who actually believes in protecting the environment – not a climate change denier and advocate-in-chief for polluters and the fossil fuel industry.
Pruitt’s record on climate change stands out as particularly reprehensible. Among many other things, he ordered all references to “climate change” and “global warming” deleted from the EPA website, helped convince the President to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Accord, and moved to kill power company and vehicle emission standards designed to eliminate hundreds of thousands of tons of greenhouse gasses from escaping into the atmosphere.
But remember, despite some 19 ongoing investigations into his ethics and outrageous misuse of taxpayer dollars on first class airfares, security details and foreign trips (just to name a few), Scott Pruitt kept his job for as long as he did because he was effectively executing the pro-polluter, anti-environmental regulatory policies of the President and Republican leaders in Congress. And that situation won’t change as long as enormously wealthy multi-national corporations and special interests are allowed to exploit precious air, water and land at the expense of human health and the very future of our planet.
Nolan Champions New Campaign Disclosure Measure
New National Poll Ranks "Big Money in Politics" as Top Threat to Democracy
It’s time to pass the Disclose Act and close legal loopholes that allow tens of billions of dollars in “dark” laundered money, foreign concerns, phony shell companies, and special interest groups to influence our elections through TV advertising paid for in secret, so-called “social welfare” organizations that only exist on paper, and sweetheart deals involving lobbyists and government contractors.
That’s why I’ve signed on as an original cosponsor of the DISCLOSE Act of 2018, a wide-ranging campaign finance reform bill that compliments my own Restore Democracy legislation. Restore Democracy is a seven-point election reform package that calls for complete disclosure of all campaign donations and getting big money out of politics by overturning the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision – among other things.
The hard cold fact is that foreign meddling in our elections, along with billions of dollars in secret “dark” money flowing into campaigns, is eroding public confidence in our democracy, undermining our public policy-making process, and poisoning our elections with false and misleading advertising.
In fact, eight out of ten Americans see the influence of big money in politics as “getting worse,” according to a new nationwide, bipartisan poll commissioned by the George W. Bush Institute and the University of Pennsylvania’s Biden Center. Out of 11 major issues participants were asked to rank as threats to our democracy, “big money in politics” tied for first place with "racism and discrimination."
Among other things, our DISCLOSE Act would:
- Prohibit U.S. corporations with significant foreign control from spending money in elections.
- Crack down on shell companies, which can be used to launder foreign money into elections, by requiring all companies spending money in elections to disclose the true owners to election officials and the public.
- Reinstate authority by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to require public companies to disclose their political spending to shareholders.
- Allow the IRS to crack down on so-called “social welfare” organizations established for the purpose of influencing elections and public policy matters.
- Require all corporations and special interest groups to immediately report campaign expenditures of $10,000 or more to the Federal Elections Commission (FEC), and to disclose all campaign-related spending to their shareholders and members.
Our Week in Duluth
Representatives from Lawyer Moms of America’s Duluth Chapter delivered an open letter to all members of Congress regarding the separation of immigrant children from their parents on our southern border. Lawyer Moms of America is a non-partisan group formed to defend the Constitution and to speak out against this terrible policy. That's my District Director, Jeff Anderson, in the middle holding the letter.
The Duluth Airshow held their annual Welcome Reception in Duluth. This weekend’s Duluth Airshow is northern Minnesota’s largest spectator event and featured the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds and the U.S. Army Black Daggar Parachute Team. Hats off to Ryan Kern (speaking), the Duluth Air Show Board, and the army of volunteers who put on this wonderful community event! District Director Jeff Anderson spoke on my behalf.
Thousands of people and families visited Duluth throughout the week for the 4th of July festivities. Here is a shot of the famous lift bridge and Bay Front Festival Park on Duluth's harbor.
Concerned over the threat of thunderstorms, Duluth officials decided to call off the 4th of July fireworks display - but certainly made up for it on the 5th of July with a spectacular show for area residents and visitors. Hats off to the Duluth fire department and everyone involved for putting on another great show!
Our Week in Eveleth
The City of Eveleth unveiled a brand new statue of the former University of Minnesota Men’s Hockey coach, Eveleth native, and Hockey Hall of Famer John Mariucci. The sculptor was non other than one of my great family friends, Jeff Kreitz, accompanied by his mother Eva.
Our Week in Sandstone
Minnesota's 8th Congressional District is truly a remarkable and beautiful place to live, work and play. Here is a photo of the Kettle River near Sandstone. If you look closely you can see the railroad bridge in the background that crosses over the river. Nolan Congressional Field Representative Rick Olseen snapped this photo in between meetings.
Our Week in Brainerd
The second Destination Downtown Business Challenge kicked off their annual challenge. The challenge supports development of small businesses in the Brainerd’s downtown. In this picture, Matt Kilian, President of the Brainerd Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce, welcomes the crowd and invites any potential entrepreneurs to join the business owners who are already located in Downtown Brainerd. Nolan Congressional Field Representative Tiffany Stenglein attended the event on my behalf.
Our Week in Hackensack
The Association of Cass County Lakes (ACCL) has been assisting local lake associations develop and refine their Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) plans. At this meeting, ACCL invited Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Conservation Officer Hannah Mishler and her AIS detecting dog, Storm, for a demonstration. In this picture, the team inspects a boat searching for the zebra mussels that had been hidden earlier. Nolan Congressional Field Representative Tiffany Stenglein attended the meeting on my behalf.
Coming Up in Washington
- The Senate Indian Affairs Committee holds a legislative hearing on S. 2599, the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Reservation Restoration Act. I have introduced the companion measure here in the House. The bill would return over 11,000 acres of Leech Lake land back to the Band that was illegally transferred in the 1950's.
Happy Birthday to America's 6th U.S. President
- John Quincy Adams
Portrait of John Quincy Adams.
Born in Braintree, Massachusetts on July 11, 1767 to John and Abigail Adams, John Quincy Adams would grow up to follow in his father's footsteps, serving as the 6th President of the United States.
Adams had a passion for politics and is remembered as one of America's greatest diplomats. Prior to serving as President of the United States, Adams was the founder of the Monroe Doctrine. In his post-presidential years Adams was known for his adamant rhetoric against expansion of slavery in the United States.
Although Adams only served one term as President, he served 17 years as a member of Congress. He passed away in 1848 at the age of 81. He died in the very room in which he took the presidential oath of office, and was the first President whose father had also served as President. When he collapsed on the floor of the House, one of the first colleagues to come to his aid was young Congressman Abraham Lincoln of Illinois.