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News stories tagged with "great-lakes"

U.S. Seaway Administrator Terry Johnson hopes containers (below) will revive the waterway's fortunes.
U.S. Seaway Administrator Terry Johnson hopes containers (below) will revive the waterway's fortunes.

Seaway chief hopes for traffic turnaround

On the St. Lawrence Seaway's website, there's a picture of a freighter docked next to mountains of "containers" - those boxes that fit on trucks and trains and carry virtually every good you can think of. Containers are the currency of global trade. Yet they're passing the St. Lawrence Seaway by. Just a tenth of one percent of all cargo that travelled the St. Lawrence Seaway this year came in a container. Most of the cargo is bulk commodities, stuff like iron ore, coal, steel, and grain - the building blocks of industry that just disappear when the economy tanks. So it's no surprise 2009 was a brutal year for the Seaway, with tonnage down 30%. In fact, Seaway traffic has for the most part decreased since the late 1970s. This all gives Terry Johnson a headache. As head of the U.S. side of the shipping channel that links the Great Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean, Johnson's in charge of turning those numbers around. He told David Sommerstein if gas goes back up to 4 dollars a gallon, or if the roads become clogged with truck traffic, the Seaway will benefit. But for now, Johnson places his hopes in those containers. And he hopes they'll come from Nova Scotia.  Go to full article

Book Review: "Living Waters"

For those of us in the North Country the St. Lawrence River is a summer playground or the wide water below us when we take the bridge to Canada. For author Margaret Wooster, the giant river is part of the Great Lakes watershed, and an ecosystem in danger. Betsy Kepes reviews Wooster's book Living Waters, Reading the Rivers of the Lower Great Lakes.  Go to full article

Great Lakes fish linked to diabetes

Scientists have known for a long time that a lot of wild-caught fish have dangerous contaminants. People who eat fish have to weigh the health benefits against the risks of consuming those pollutants. Now, some research could make that balancing act even trickier. Gabriel Spitzer has more on the link between diabetes... and an infamous old chemical many assumed was long gone.  Go to full article

Save The River sounds alarm on Seaway expansion

A North Country green group has sounded the alarm about climate change legislation recently approved by the House of Representatives. Save The River, based in the Thousand Islands, sent an alert to members to tell their senators to keep expansion of the St. Lawrence Seaway out of new climate change legislation.

Expansion of the international shipping lanes is an old issue. The Army Corps of Engineers has studied the idea for years. But there's been little political muscle behind it. Seaway Administrator Terry Johnson has said Seaway expansion is "off the table." But Save The River Director Jennifer Caddick says that's apparently not so. She told Martha Foley a last minute amendment to the House climate change bill passed in late June would provide funding for the physical work--bigger locks, channel dredging--needed to allow bigger ships to use the waterway.  Go to full article

How the invaders got here: "Pandora's Locks"

The Seaway's 50th anniversary has inspired a number of new books about the waterway. One blames the federal government, not the shipping industry, for the invasion of foreign species into the Great Lakes that has cost the region billions of dollars. The Environment Report's Lester Graham talks with author Jeff Alexander about his new book, Pandora's Locks.  Go to full article
Jennifer Caddick of Save the River hopes President Obama will help restore and improve wetlands like these in French Creek, a St. Lawrence tributary.
Jennifer Caddick of Save the River hopes President Obama will help restore and improve wetlands like these in French Creek, a St. Lawrence tributary.

Great Lakes defenders see hope in Obama

The Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River contain one-fifth of the world's fresh surface water, 90% of the fresh surface water in the U.S. But they've been battered by industrial pollution, farm and road runoff, and invasive species. The 185 foreign species in the Lakes and River cause billions of dollars in damage to the region's economy every year. After years of neglect by Washington, the Obama Administration is making a multi-billion dollar commitment to the cleaning up the Great Lakes. Environmentalists believe they have a big ally. David Sommerstein reports.  Go to full article
Postage sheet celebrating the Great Lakes dunes.
Postage sheet celebrating the Great Lakes dunes.

A stamp of approval

The Great Lakes are getting a stamp of approval from the Postal Service. Heidi Chang reports there's a new sheet of postal stamps that celebrate the region.  Go to full article

Study: Seaway closure not needed to fight invasives

The ballast tanks of foreign Seaway ships are the number one vector of invasive species in the St. Lawrence River and Great Lakes. Invaders like the zebra mussel and round goby cost the region hundreds of million dollars a year. Some environmentalists and scientists have called for the Seaway to turn away foreign freighters until they install sophisticated treatment systems to clean the ballast tanks. A new report by the National Academy of Sciences says that's not necessary. The 4-year study by 13 scientists says rules adopted this year requiring all foreign ships to flush their ballast tanks with salt water before entering the Great Lakes are sufficient. U.S. Seaway Adminstrator Terry Johnson praised the committee's findings. He said closing the Seaway to foreign traffic would be "legally unfeasible, politically unrealistic, and economically disastrous" for the U.S. and Canada. Hugh MacIsaac was a member of the study team. He researches invasive species at the University of Windsor in Ontario. MacIsaac told David Sommerstein that salt-water flushing of ballast tanks, known as "swish and spit," is the best existing way to stop invasives. And it lacks the political controversy closing the Seaway to foreign ships would have.  Go to full article

Arctic summer of fire and ice

The Arctic is melting this summer. But, that melting is not as severe as it could be. Lester Graham reports a haze filters out some of the sun's rays.  Go to full article

Great Lakes compact goes to Washington

The movement to essentially ban water diversions from the Great Lakes moved on to Washington this week. It took years for all eight Great Lakes states to pass the Great Lakes compact. Michigan was the last legislature to ratify it earlier this month. Now Congress needs to act for the compact to become law. Minnesota Democrat James Oberstar, who chairs an influential committee, has promised quick passage in the House. New York Senator Hillary Clinton helped introduce the measure in her chamber on Wednesday. To assess the political landscape awaiting the compact on Capitol Hill, David Sommerstein spoke with journalist Peter Annin. He wrote The Great Lakes Water Wars about the compact. He says it remains a mystery how lawmakers from other parts of the country will react.  Go to full article

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