Wednesday night Eric Mattson and I traveled to Ogdensburg, NY to attend a meeting hosted by the St. Lawrence County Environmental Management Council to discuss the newest study by the US Army Corps of Engineers on seaway expansion. LOK joined Save the River, local fishermen and ship pilots and other citizens in voicing its concerns with the preliminary findings of the Great Lakes Navigational System Review, scheduled to be finished this June, and officially released in the early fall.
The Corps were commissioned by Congress to conduct a reconnaissance study to ?report on important factors affecting commercial navigation? and to determine whether there is a US federal interest in expanding the seaway. The Corps preliminary findings recommend that there is a US federal interest in expanding the seaway and deepening the shipping channels of the St. Lawrence. The reconnaissance study however, only looked at the 2 locks (out of fifteen along the St. Lawrence) that are under US control, did not consider any environmental impacts, and did not contain a benefit to cost ratio (usually standard in Corps studies).
While not yet approved by the US federal government, many of the alternatives explored such as expanding locks, blasting and dredging the St. Lawrence, and increasing winter navigation on the lake would have significant negative impacts on the health of the lake.
For the study to go on to the next phase however, the Canadian government would have to commit to becoming a funding partner, an amount the Corps estimate at $10,000,000 US. At the present time I am not aware of any significant debate in any of the Ministries or federal agencies that oversee the traffic and wildlife along the St. Lawrence with regards to seaway expansion. LOK has written to all of the Ministries and federal agencies that have a stake in the project to voice our concern, and to ensure that we receive all public information on the topic. As we continue our discussions with the government, and learn more about the issue, we will make sure to post our progress in our log.
I would also like to thank Save the River for the work they have done organizing buses to Wednesday night?s meeting, and for educating the public on such an important topic. I look forward to working with Save the River throughout the summer on this and other issues that those of us concerned with the health of the lake have in common.
Read Save the River's analysis of the project.