Won one for the shipper!
$922 Million Authorized for New Soo Lock at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan
Project is vital to our national economy and our national security – and a major win for Minnesota miners, businesses, and farmers whose products move through the Great Lakes chain to manufacturers and suppliers all the way up the St. Lawrence Seaway.
The Soo Locks are the gateway through which 13 percent of our annual Gross National Product – much of it Range iron ore and Minnesota agricultural commodities – move from Lake Superior through the Great Lakes chain, supplying America’s great steel mills and manufacturing centers all the way up the St. Lawrence Seaway. In this photo, the 1,200-foot Mesabi Miner moves Range iron ore through the Poe Lock, which is scheduled to be replaced as part of the $922 million improvement project.
The Soo Locks at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan are vital to our national economy and our national security, so the President’s signature last week on the Water Resources Development Act authorizing $922 million for urgently needed repairs and upgrades is really good news. For Great Lakes Democrats and Republicans alike, and particularly for those of us who serve on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, restoration of the Soo Locks has been a major priority for many years.
It will now be up to the next Congress to actually appropriate the funds so construction can begin on a new, 1,200-foot-long lock to accommodate the 1,000-foot laker ships that originate from the Port of Duluth and Two Harbors here in Minnesota. The Locks are the gateway through which 13 percent of our annual Gross National Product – much of it Range iron ore and Minnesota agricultural commodities – move from Lake Superior through the Great Lakes chain, supplying America’s great steel mills and manufacturing centers all the way up the St. Lawrence Seaway.
So in terms of getting this new lock built, the stakes could not be higher. As I have pointed out many times before, the Department of Homeland Security has concluded that within six weeks of an unexpected closure at the Soo Locks, 75 percent of all U.S. steel production would cease, triggering a $1.1 trillion decrease in economic activity and a depression worse than what we experienced in 2008 and 2009. The steel shutdown would reverberate through the supply chain, closing down Iron Range mines along with the production of automobiles, farm equipment, appliances and parts and products vital to our national defense.
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 Amendment Accelerating War on Zebra Mussels, Asian Carp, Other Aquatic Invasive Species Becomes Law
In addition to the harm they inflict on loons, fish and other aquatic life, invasive zebra mussels can cause serious damage to boats, as evidenced by the swarm on this propeller.
Invasive zebra mussels spread deadly infections to our Minnesota Loons and destroy sport and commercial fishing habitat. My amendment to the Water Resources Development Act, signed into law last week, directs the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to accelerate the battle against these invaders, along with Asian carp and hundreds of other species attacking our lakes, rivers and waterways.
Specifically, this provision directs the Secretary of Transportation to immediately undertake an intensive research effort focusing on “the management and eradication of aquatic invasive species, including Asian carp and zebra mussels.” Within six months, the Secretary is directed to submit a report to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, recommending a plan to “address the spread and impacts of aquatic invasive species.”
Back in 2014, my amendment to a previous Water Resources bill expanded the federal definition of invasive species from plants only to include aquatic invaders such as zebra mussels and Asian carp. This new provision builds on that success, helping ensure cleaner water, healthy loons, and more stability for our multi-billion dollar Minnesota-Great Lakes commercial and sport fishing industry for generations to come.
Here We Go Again! GOP Looks to Revive Their Health Care Debacle
Their plan would have allowed insurance companies to deny coverage to millions of Americans with preexisting conditions.
Just in time for Halloween.
The Republican bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (Obama Care) proved to be an unmitigated disaster. There was nothing in the measure to like, the American people did not support it, the damage it stood to cause was irreparable, and its fate was well deserved. But last week, believe it or not, GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Republicans would likely try to revive this debacle of a bill following the November elections. So let’s review the highlights:
According to the independent Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the GOP measure stood to:
- Allow insurance companies to deny coverage to millions of Americans with preexisting conditions, or make health insurance too expensive for them to afford.
- Cause 24 million Americans to lose their health insurance by 2026.
- Remove comprehensive health insurance requirements for essential services including Preventative Care, Emergency Room Care, Hospitalization, Prescriptions, Maternity Care, Newborn Care, Mental Health Care and Chronic Disease Management.
- Cut Medicaid assistance to the elderly, the disabled, the poor and the most vulnerable people by $880 billion dollars over the next ten years – devastating rural hospitals and essential public health programs.
- Allow insurance companies to charge seniors up to five times more than younger people for insurance, and raise everybody’s insurance premiums by 15 to 20 percent over the next two years.
- Hand $600 billion dollars in tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans and richest, most powerful corporations.
If Republicans were serious about real health care reform, they would join some 200 House Democrats and 19 Senate Democrats in support of a universal, single payer “Medicare for All” system where everyone pays the same premium, everyone is covered, and everyone receives top quality care. Virtually every other industrialized western nation provides health care in this way for lower cost, with better overall outcomes. It’s time for us to do the same.
Duluth's Zero-Emission Electric Buses are Rolling Thanks to $6.4 Million Federal Transit Grant Secured in 2015
My staff and I were honored to help the City of Duluth secure a $6.4 million Federal Transit Administration grant to replace six outdated diesel buses with these state-of-the-art, zero emission, fast charge electric buses, plus two on-route fast charge stations.
The electric buses began rolling in Duluth last Wednesday, and my staff and I were proud to help make it happen.
Given our long, cold winters, there is no better city than Duluth to demonstrate fast-charging electric bus technology – leading the way for other cold weather cities to incorporate clean, sustainable technologies into their transit systems. That, in a nutshell, is the pitch I delivered to then Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx back in 2014 as we began our successful effort to secure a $6.4 million federal grant for the City of Duluth to replace six outdated diesel buses with highly efficient, zero-emission electric buses.
We worked hard, banged on a lot of doors, built support from the Obama Administration, the Minnesota delegation, and other Members of Congress – and finally, on February 2, 2015, we were able to announce that the grant had been approved and the project would move forward. Hats off as well to Minnesota Department of Transportation (MNDOT) Commissioner Charlie Zelle, the Duluth Transit Authority, and Duluth City leaders for their tremendous support and contributions in bringing this project to fruition.
Our Week in Duluth
My District Director Jeff Anderson joined Duluth Mayor Emily Larson, State Representative Liz Olson, and representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), St. Louis River Alliance, City of Duluth, Senator Tina Smith’s office and other stakeholders to tour the Minnesota Slip Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) project this week. Pictured above is Duluth Mayor Emily Larson speaking to tour attendees.
The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative project at the slip sites in Duluth will result in the remediation of about 37,000 cubic yards of polluted sediment in the slip. The polluted sediment is being capped with 2 feet of dredged material from clean areas of the harbor. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is a bipartisan effort that I have been so proud to champion during my time in Congress.
Our Week in Royalton Township
Royalton Township in Pine County employed an artist to paint this beautiful rural Minnesota mural on the side of their maintenance building. Nolan Congressional Field Representative Rick Olseen snapped this photo of the mural.
Our Week in Hinckley
The Region 7-E Adult Mental Health Initiatives Community Conversation was held at the Grand Casino in Hinckley. These community conversations are a part of a five county effort to identify and address mental health issues. Nolan Congressional Field Representative Rick Olseen attended the meeting on my behalf.
Our Week in North Branch
North Branch Mayor Kirsten Kennedy and GPS 45:93 President Nancy Hoffman met with the Trade Delegation from Korea at the Lakes EMS facility in North Branch to discuss trade related issues. Nolan Congressional Field Representative Rick Olseen attended the meeting.
Our Week in Braham
The Grand Opening of the Northstar Family Advocacy Center in Braham was held last week. They are a 501(c)3 non profit organization providing services throughout Isanti County including working with children and vulnerable adults in reported cases of abuse. Nolan Congressional Field Representative Rick Olseen attended the opening.
Our Week in Baxter
A Partnership Recognition Event was held at the Mississippi River Overlook Park. The partnership between the City of Baxter, the Brainerd School District, Camp Ripley, the Nature Conservancy, and the Conservation fund will add to the school forest and city park as well as protect the mission of Camp Ripley by allowing training without disturbing residential properties. In this photo, Brigadier General Lowell Kruse describes the benefits of the project for Camp Ripley. Nolan Field Representative Tiffany Stenglein attended the celebration on my behalf.
Our Week in McGrath
American Peat Technology held an open house for community members. APT is working to open a second peat mine in Seavey Township in rural Aitkin County. The event drew local residents and leaders interested in learning more about the project. Nolan Field Representative Tiffany Stenglein attended the event on my behalf.
Remember the Great Halloween Blizzard of 1991?
This one word Duluth News Tribune headline said it all. That remarkable Halloween blizzard dumped up to 28 inches of the Northland and much of Minnesota. We hope the weather will be more cooperative this year when trick or treaters head out for Halloween this coming Wednesday.
Trick or treating during the Halloween blizzard of 1991 - 28 inches of snow didn’t deter this brave little guy.