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Great Lakes-Seaway News' purpose is to provide news, critical information updates, and thoughtful commentary to those who care about the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System specifically, and the maritime industry in general. It is important that Great Lakes-Seaway News also become a forum and online meeting place so that ideas can be presented, issues can be debated and relationships can be made to advance the seaway system’s interests for now and for the future.

Therefore, Great Lakes Seaway News will serve as the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System's newspaper, its online bulletin board, its meeting place for innovation and discussion, and its clubhouse for the development of plans and activities which will serve those who participate in the online marketplace of ideas.

Great Lakes-Seaway News is an independent publication and as such, is not affiliated in any way with the U.S. Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation, the Canadian St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers or any other agencies of the governments of the United States of America or Canada. 

Great Lakes-Seaway News is a publication of PRI Strategy Management, Inc.  All rights reserved.


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Upstate New York A Battleground for Control of the U.S. House

With both Democrats and Republicans seeing potential conversion opportunities in Upstate New York, the region is becoming a battleground in the fight for control of the U.S. House of Representatives in the 2014 election cycle.

For Democrats to have any chance at challenging for the House majority, they must win the competitive races in New York, a state that has become a stronghold for Democratic lawmakers in recent decades. Polling released late last week suggests that at least two key races are not trending their way.

In the expansive rural 19th District that stretches from the area just north of Poughkeepsie to the region just to the south and east of Albany, a GOP incumbent seeks a third term. Representing a district of constituents that are more than 50 percent changed from those in the 20th District who originally elected Rep. Chris Gibson (R) in 2010, a new Siena College survey (9/4-9; 609 NY-19 likely voters) projects the incumbent to be holding a strong lead despite this now being a more Democratic district (Obama ’12: 52). The Siena data posts Gibson to a 57-33% lead over venture capitalist Sean Eldridge (D) who had raised more than $3 million as summer began, about $800,000 more than the Congressman within the same time frame. Both men will spend heavily on the race in what will undoubtedly become one of the most expensive US House contests in the country.

According to the Siena analysis, Eldridge will likely have difficultly making strong inroads against Gibson because the Congressman is rated higher for his ability to handle literally every issue the University asked respondents to evaluate. The smallest Gibson positive margin was nine points, relating to healthcare. His strongest advantage involved the situation in the Middle East, where respondents gave him a 29-point advantage when compared to Eldridge.

In the 21st District, a seat that borders the Gibson district and ranges all the way to the North Country and the St. Lawrence River Valley that creates much of the Empire State’s border with Canada including the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation's operations center in Massena, Ny Democrats have their backs against the wall in trying to hold the seat from which Rep. Bill Owens (D-Plattsburgh) is retiring. This region has been in Democratic hands since President Obama appointed Rep. John McHugh (R) as Army Secretary in 2009, even though his sucessor, Rep. Owens, never garnered a majority vote. A split within conservative and Republican ranks played to Democrats’ benefit in each of the four races here but one--the current campaign.

In this year’s primary election, former George W. Bush Administration aide Elise Stefanik (R) easily defeated 2010 and 2012 GOP nominee Matt Doheny after he twice failed to unseat Rep. Owens. With her strong victory, she was able to dissuade Doheny from advancing to the general election as the Independence Party nominee, which would have created the type of three-way contest that has repeatedly stymied the GOP.

With Stefanik now having a clear shot at this district that tilts Republican under most circumstances, though President Obama did pull 52 percent here in 2012, the new Siena data (9/4-9; 591 NY-21 likely voters) finds her leading Democrat Aaron Woolf, a filmmaker who owns an organic grocery store in Brooklyn some 300 miles from the center of CD-21. Siena posts Stefanik to a 46-33 advantage. The one piece of bad news for the 29-year old Republican nominee shows that only 1/3 of the voters say that they are solidly committed to the candidate they named on the ballot test question.

The New York races are a microcosm for what is happening to House Democratic open seat contenders and challengers in the country as a whole. Opportunities are few and far between, and most of the ones that do exist are not trending positively for them at the current time.


Canada-EU to Sign Trade Deal That Riles Canadian Shipowners

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso will appear together at a special ceremony in Ottawa next week to sign a new trade pact that government officials say will open a new chapter in Canada-EU business opportunities, but shipowners see it as a potential threat to Canada's shipping industry.

Canadian shipowners say their government plans to sign off on a trade deal with Europe that could eventually put thousands of jobs in the Canadian maritime industry at risk.

Under the free-trade agreement, key pieces of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway shipping industry would be opened up to foreign competition for the first time, with no reciprocal access for Canadian shipowners in Europe.

Under the terms of the new trade agreement, European ship operators can carry empty containers in Canadian waters, bid on dredging projects, and carry cargo between Halifax and Montreal.

“This will destabilize the industry and create a precedent,” warned Martin Fournier, executive director of the St. Lawrence Shipoperators, which represents 14 companies who own more 130 ships. “The law was always quite strict about the protection of the Canadian industry.”

Just as problematic for the industry is that Canada is opening up its market without getting matching access in Europe, Mr. Fournier pointed out. “We’re opening our market to European ships, but the European market is closed,” he said.

Canada’s Coasting Trade Act, is similar to U.S. cabotage laws collectively called the "Jones Act." Under the Canada's rules ships moving cargo from one Canadian port to another must be generally be Canadian flagged, with crews trained and certified by Canadian authoriteis.

The Seafarers’ International Union (SIU) of Canada says the new deal would allow European ships to move trade cargos “without any restrictions on origin of the crew, or level of wage and working conditions.”

Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT), which negotiated the deal with counterparts in the EU says the Canadian economy will benefit from a projected increase in Canada-European trade.  A DFAIT press release also said the deal will “ensure a level playing field for Canadian shipping companies” and that all existing safety, security and environmental regulations that apply to Canadian ships would also apply to foreign vessels and their crews.


Great Lakes Water Levels Continue Positive Trend

Water levels on the Great Lakes continued to rise in August, with Lake Superior's August water levels measured at an 18 year high and Lakes Michigan and Huron reaching the highest August water levels since 1998.

According to the International Joint Commission's International Lake Superior Board of Control, the water level on Lake Superior rose 0.4 inches in August and was 6 inches above the average level for September 1 and 8 inches above the water level recorded at the same time last year.

Lakes Huron and Michigan saw an even faster rise, increasing by 2 inches in August.  Lake Michigan and Lake Huron are currently just 1 inch below its long-term average for the end of August, and a full 17 inches above the level posted just one year ago.

Water supplies for the Great Lakes have increased due to a last winter's heavy snowfall, thick ice cover, and cool temperatures substantial rainfall throughout the spring and summer.  Cool Water temperatures in the Lakes have also reduced evaporation rates which have contributed to today's high water levels.

Great Lakes water levels have been heading in the right direction for more than a year, but below-normal water levels plagued the Great Lakes for the previous decade, causing challenges for the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway maritime industry.


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Cleveland-Europe Express Contributes to Port Tonnage Increase 

The Port of Cleveland posted strong cargo tonnage figures for the month of August.  General cargo tonnage throughput at the Port last month was 11 percent greater than it was in August 2013, and year-to-date cargo tonnage has increased by more than 25 percent compared to the same period of time last year.

“This growth can be attributed to strong demand in the manufacturing sector, including the automotive industry, and higher demand for project cargo moves. The Cleveland-Europe Express continues to gain momentum in the market, and we are pleased that customers who have used, and continue to use, this new service provide us with positive feedback that the CEE is indeed a viable alternative to East Coast and Gulf Coast ports,” said David Gutheil, the Port of Cleveland's Vice President Maritime and Logistics.

Earlier this week, International Longshoremen's Association dockworkers were loading export cargos aboard the Fortunagracht, a container ship owned by the Netherlands-based Spliethoff Group, which made its fifth voyage to the Port of Cleveland as part of the CEE liner service.

The regularly scheduled freight service between Cleveland and northern Europe contributed significantly to the Port's efforts to diversify its cargo base and capture new business.