dredging

Business
3:43 pm
Fri February 14, 2014

Agri-business wants river barges to access Muskegon’s deep water port

Barge and ship traffic transport export cargo on the Mississippi River in the Port of New Orleans, New Orleans, LA on Sept. 9, 2005.
USDA Creative Commons

The Michigan Agri-Business Association wants to open the Port of Muskegon to river barge traffic.

The large, flat-bottomed boats already carry huge shipments from New Orleans up the Mississippi River to ports in Milwaukee and Indiana.

The Michigan Agri-Business Association wants the U.S. Coast Guard to allow the ships to come to Muskegon’s deep water port too.

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Environment & Science
10:00 am
Thu February 13, 2014

Enbridge unveils new plans to dredge oily sediment from Kalamazoo River

The pink areas in the Morrow Lake delta are where dredging needs to be completed. The two proposed locations for dredge pads are also highlighted.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Enbridge Energy has new plans to finish dredging oil from the Kalamazoo River spill in 2010. The spill was the biggest inland oil spill in U.S. history. The cleanup has cost the company more than a billion dollars so far.

The roughly 180,000 gallons of crude oil that was left on the river bottom before dredging began isn’t really oil anymore. It's tiny particles of weathered material that’s mixed in with sediment.

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Environment & Science
12:10 pm
Fri July 26, 2013

Already short on time, Enbridge’s plans to dredge oil from the Kalamazoo River delayed

Enbridge workers on the Kalamazoo River in May 2013.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

It appears less likely that Enbridge will meet a federal deadline to dredge some of the oil that remains at the bottom of the Kalamazoo River. The oil is left over from the company’s spill three years ago.

The Environmental Protection Agency wants the work done by the end of this year. They say the work will remove 12,000 – 18,000 gallons of “recoverable oil”.

Enbridge needs to get several permits from Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality to do the dredging work in five locations.

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Environment & Science
12:21 pm
Wed July 24, 2013

Bell's Brewery files suit against Enbridge and Comstock Commerce Park developer

Bell's Amber Ale
edwin.bautista Flickr

Bell’s Brewery has filed a lawsuit against Enbridge and the developer of Comstock Commerce Park.

The suit concerns the dredging plans for the Kalamazoo River. Dredging the river is a part of an ongoing effort to clean up the oil spill that happened three years ago.

Residents and business owners – such as Larry Bell of Bell’s Brewery – have expressed concern about the potential pollution that will be caused by the dredging effort.

Ursula Zerilli of MLive had the following report on the dredging operation:

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Politics & Government
8:43 am
Wed April 24, 2013

The week in Michigan politics: dredging, immigration and right to work

cncphotos flickr

The week in Michigan politics interview

This week in Michigan politics, Christina Shockley and Jack Lessenberry discuss the issue of dredging in Michigan’s harbors, a package of bills that would make Michigan a more immigrant-friendly state, and how lawmakers have backed off from punishing colleges and municipalities for negotiating contracts before the right to work law went into effect.

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Environment & Science
1:09 pm
Tue April 23, 2013

Michigan AG says fund cannot be tapped for Great Lakes dredging

Dredging on the River Raisin.
USEPA

Governor Rick Snyder says he’s pleased with an official opinion from state Attorney General Bill Schuette.

It says the state constitution does not allow the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund to pay for dredging and other types of maintenance on public harbors.

The governor says that affirms his position.

"As we look at, let’s look out to the future, I would not use the trust fund at all. That is not a place that I would look to for resources for this," he said.

The Governor and the Attorney General say the Natural Resources Trust can only be used to acquire and improve property for the public’s use.

Snyder and the Legislature reached a compromise earlier on an emergency dredging bill that taps into the Waterways Trust Fund and the state’s General Fund.

The money will be used for dredging this spring to clear harbors suffering from record low water levels. Low water levels could affect Great Lakes shipping and recreational boating.

Politics & Government
8:30 am
Tue April 23, 2013

In this morning's news: education work groups, floods receding, trust fund off-limits for dredging

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Mike Flanagan announces public work group on education

Mike Flanagan, the state's superintendent, announced the formation of his own public education work group at Governor Snyder's education summit in East Lansing yesterday. His announcement comes days after a Detroit News report uncovered a secret work group that included top aides to Governor Snyder and private sector representatives. Flanagan says the secret group  should be disbanded.

Flooding in Grand Rapids is receding

After the worst flood on record, Grand Rapids city officials are relieved that the Grand River is finally receding.

"There’s rain in forecast for Tuesday so conditions could change. But the National Weather Service predicts the river will go down as much as a foot per day until it gets back to normal levels on Thursday," Michigan Radio's Lindsey Smith reports.

Schuette says trust fund money off-limits for dredging

"Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette says a trust fund for land purchases and improvements can't be used for harbor dredging. Schuette's opinion released Monday found that dredging is upkeep and can't be paid for with Natural Resources Trust Fund money...The Republican's opinion is considered binding unless reversed by the courts," the Associated Press reports.

Politics & Government
8:30 am
Thu March 28, 2013

In this morning's news: Right to work, challenge to EM law, harbor dredging

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Michigan's right to work law goes into effect

Michigan's right-to-work law, which says employees cannot be required to pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment, goes into effect today.

According to MPRN's Rick Pluta, there is still plenty of conflict over the new law.

"Some Republicans are threatening budget sanctions for public employers that have signed extended labor bargains that would delay the effects of the law. Labor groups plan to mark the day with protests and vigils, including one at the state Capitol. Governor Rick Snyder says he’s not concerned."

Opponents challenge EM law in federal court

Opponents to Michigan's new emergency manager law say it is unconstitutional and are challenging it in federal court.

“A lawsuit Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Detroit seeks an injunction to stop the law. It claims that the new law is similar to one that voters rejected in November, and violates the collective bargaining rights of workers," the Associated Press reports.

Governor Snyder approves harbor dredging after record low water levels

"Governor Rick Snyder says he expects almost 60 Michigan harbors to be dredged in time for the summer boating season. He approved more than $20 million for the projects yesterday," reports Michigan Radio's Jake Neher.

Politics & Government
3:17 pm
Wed March 27, 2013

Gov. Snyder approves funding for emergency harbor dredging

Harbor dredging
Andrew McFarlane Flickr

Governor Rick Snyder has approved funding for almost 60 harbor dredging projects across the state.

Ships and recreational boaters are struggling to get in and out of harbors because of low water levels in the Great Lakes.

Snyder says almost everyone in Lansing recognizes the need for emergency dredging.

“In some ways we asked people to delay projects a year so we could do these projects. And I appreciate their understanding and cooperation in that, because I think this was a case where there was very little opposition to the work we’ve done on this project.”

The federal government is often responsible for dredging projects in the Great Lakes. But with water levels at historic lows, Snyder says the state couldn’t afford to wait for Washington to act.

“I think this is a case where we’re going to go faster than what they would normally do. So we hope to get potentially reimbursed in some capacity, theoretically, for some of the places that the Army Corps (of Engineers) might do. But we’re not going to wait.”

The governor asked for more than $20 million dollars for emergency dredging in his proposed budget. State lawmakers approved the plan last week.

Breaking
2:16 pm
Thu March 21, 2013

$20.9 million for Great Lakes harbor dredging

A dredge working on Lake Michigan.
USEPA

The lower water levels in the Great Lakes are taking a bite out of the state's pocketbook.

Today, the Legislature sent a budget bill to Gov. Snyder that includes $20.9 million in funding for dredging harbors and marinas suffering from low water levels in Lakes Huron and Michigan.

Update 2:00 p.m.

Here's more on the $20.9 million approved for harbor dredging.

MLive's Tim Martin has a list of the 49 harbors and marinas to be dredged with the funds.

The bill had bi-partisan support, but State Senator Rebekah Warren (D-Ann Arbor) voted against a bill to fund dredging of public harbors and marinas with money from the state's Waterways Fund.

"The Waterways Fund pays for things like maintaining our public marinas so that the public can have access to clean restrooms and great park locations at public marinas around the state - and they depleted that to do dredging. And to me, I just think it’s the wrong priority,” said Warren.

Supporters said it's more important to provide access to the harbors and marinas now. They say they plan to put money back into the Waterways Fund later on.

State Senator Geoff Hansen (R-Hart) said passage of the legislation today (before legislators take a two week spring break) will allow dredging to start in time for the summer boating season.

“With this emergency situation, we needed the money now. We didn’t need to wait, because it won’t do any good once we get into July and August to try and do the dredging then. We needed to put the money up front, get the bids out, get the work done,” said Hansen.

Gov. Snyder is expected to sign the bill quickly to free up the money for dredging contracts.

11:01 a.m.

The state Senate has sent Governor Rick Snyder a budget bill that includes almost $21 million to dredge Great Lakes harbors suffering from record low water levels.

We'll have more soon.

*An earlier headline read "$21 million for Great Lakes harbor dredging." $20.9 million was approved. We changed the headline.

Politics & Government
7:06 am
Thu March 21, 2013

In this morning's news: Medicaid expansion rejected, dredging moves forward, March Madness begins

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Michigan lawmakers reject Medicaid expansion

A state House subcommittee has rejected an expansion of Medicaid to nearly 500,000 Michiganders. As the Detroit Free Press reports,

"The Appropriations subcommittee handling the Department of Community Health budget passed the funding document without the Medicaid expansion, as well as other Snyder proposals, including: dental services for low income children, health and wellness initiatives, mental health and substance abuse services for veterans and an infant mortality program."

However, according to Rick Pluta,  Governor Rick Snyder says he expects the Legislature will ultimately accept federal money to expand Michigan’s Medicaid program.

State House approves dredging funds

"The state House has approved more than $20 million for emergency harbor dredging. Governor Rick Snyder is asking for the money to address record-low water levels in the Great Lakes. He says ships and recreational boaters aren’t able to get in and out of harbors," Jake Neher reports.

March Madness tournament kicks off today

The basketball games leading up to the NCAA championship begins today. As the Detroit News reports, Michigan State University and the University of Michigan's mens' basketball teams have games tonight.

"No. 3 seed MSU will face Valparaiso at 12:15 p.m. and No. 4 seed U-M will take on South Dakota State at 7:15 p.m. Teams moving on in the next round will head to games on Saturday, also at the Palace [of Auburn Hills]."

Politics & Government
1:23 pm
Wed March 13, 2013

Emergency dredging money moving through House

A dredge outside of Leland Harbor.
Andrew McFarlane Flickr

Lake levels are low, especially in Lakes Huron and Michigan, so harbors and ports want help clearing the way before boating season starts.

Gov. Snyder called it an emergency.

Members in the Legislature seem to agree as emergency money from the Natural Resources Trust Fund, a fund normally used for public land acquisition or improvement, is closer to reality.

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Politics & Government
1:55 pm
Thu March 7, 2013

Michigan Senate OKs $21 million to dredge harbors

A dredge on the River Raisin.
USEPA

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The Michigan Senate has voted to authorize $21 million in emergency spending to dredge Great Lakes harbors grappling with record-low water levels.

The bill passed 31-5 Thursday and now heads to the House.

The short-term fix would buy time while Gov. Rick Snyder's administration and legislators search for permanent revenue to help water-starved harbors. The federal government has cut back on dredging and the lakes continue declining.

Dredging involves removing sediments so water is deep enough for boats and barges. The bill specifies 49 dredging projects to be done.

The legislation also would authorize the spending of $23 million from a trust fund to buy land and improve land for public recreation.

Politics & Government
10:04 am
Mon March 4, 2013

Battle lines drawn in Lansing over dredging

How should Michigan pay for dredging?
Andrew McFarlane Flickr

A battle over how to pay for emergency harbor dredging is brewing in Lansing. State Senator John Moolenaar (R-Midland) is sponsoring a bill that would explicitly identify harbor dredging as a proper use of  funding from the state's National Resources Trust Fund.

He says, “when it comes to recreational access to use our tremendous assets that we have in Michigan, we believe this is consistent, but we wanted to spell it out in state law.”

Environmental groups are criticizing the plan.  They say it would threaten the state’s ability to buy and improve parks and public land.

Hugh McDiarmid of the Michigan Environmental Council admits record-low water levels in the Great Lakes mean emergency dredging is necessary. But he says there are better ways to pay for it than raiding the Natural Resources Trust Fund. 

“Diverting money to dredge harbors,” he says, “would hurt communities around the state who wouldn’t have that money available for their parks and their recreational facilities.”

McDiarmid adds long-term harbor maintenance costs could drain the fund completely.  “Maybe purchasing land to create a new harbor would be a more appropriate use of the trust fund”, he says. “You know, some big investment like that rather than routine maintenance that would bleed the trust fund every year, and really should come from another source.”

Governor Rick Snyder is asking for more than $20 million for emergency harbor dredging in his proposed budget. That money would not come out of the Natural Resources Trust Fund.

Politics & Government
9:19 am
Wed February 13, 2013

Commentary: Paying rational prices

Lessenberry commentary for 12/13/12

One day in the mid-1990s, a woman I knew went off to get her hair done. When the time came to pay, however, she offered the bewildered hairdresser less than a dollar. Suddenly, she wanted to pay everyone 1940’s prices. This didn’t go over very well. But it was soon clear that she was suffering from a fast-moving form of dementia. She wasn’t to blame for her idea that she ought to pay far less than things were worth.

However, those in charge of our state are to blame if they aren’t willing to charge what things are worth, or pay for things which are good long-term investments. We have two examples of that right now.

One is the governor’s call to raise hunting and fishing licenses. This set off howls of protests from sporting groups. But Michigan has been undercharging for these licenses for years, and the state -- and specifically the Department of Natural Resources -- have been losing out on millions badly needed for conservation. Much of that money from the pockets of out-of-state hunters.

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Politics & Government
8:42 am
Wed February 13, 2013

The week in Michigan politics

Matthileo Flickr

Week in Michigan politics interview

In this week in Michigan politics, Michigan Radio’s Christina Shockley and Jack Lessenberry discuss the possibility for an emergency manager for Detroit, lawsuits against the state’s right to work law and funding for dredging the Great Lakes.

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Politics & Government
7:50 am
Wed February 13, 2013

This morning's news: Mascots, dredging and election scandals

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Republicans back money for dredging

"Some Republican state lawmakers say Governor Rick Snyder’s plans for emergency harbor dredging may not be enough. They unveiled a plan Tuesday that would set aside $30 million from the state’s 'rainy day' fund for emergency projects around the state. They say that’s what’s needed to address record-low water levels in the Great Lakes," Jake Neher reports.

Protests against removing American Indian mascots from schools

"Republican lawmakers at the state Capitol are protesting a Michigan Department of Civil Rights action. The complaint filed with the US Department of Education names 35 Michigan high schools that have American Indian mascots and nicknames. It asks the federal government to order schools to change their mascots or lose funding," Rick Pluta reports.

Attorney General dismisses charges against McCotter aids

"Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette is appealing the dismissal of conspiracy charges against two former aides to a Detroit-area congressman accused in an election scandal. The men and two others were accused last year in the scandal involving bogus petition signatures. McCotter didn't make the ballot and quit Congress last July after nearly 10 years rather than finish his term," the Associated Press reports.

Environment & Science
1:41 pm
Tue February 12, 2013

Lawmakers seek to tap Michigan's 'Rainy Day Fund' for Great Lakes dredging

A dredge operating outside of the harbor in Leland, Michigan.
Andrew McFarlane Flickr

Some lawmakers in Lansing want to tap the state’s “rainy day” fund to pay for emergency harbor dredging in the Great Lakes.

A group of Republican state Senators today endorsed opening up $30 million from the fund for projects around the state.

They also offered a number of ways to fund future dredging projects.

State Senator Geoff Hansen (R-Hart) says a short-term solution isn’t enough to address record-low water levels in the Great Lakes.

“These are designed to be long-term solutions. We have the one-time, right now fix. And in the end of the day we need to have enough dollars to make that this year we’re keeping our ports open,” said Hansen.

Governor Snyder set aside over $20 million in his proposed budget for emergency dredging. That money would not come out of the state’s savings.

The lawmakers say their plan is meant to supplement Snyder’s proposal, not replace it.

Changing Gears
1:52 pm
Wed July 6, 2011

Who Cares About Great Lakes Dredging? These Guys. (slideshow)

Engineer Tom O'Bryan says dredges like this one are basically big vacuums, chewing up sand.
Kate Davidson Changing Gears

We brought the story of the Great Lakes dredging backlog to your radio and computer screen.

But sometimes, you need more of a visual. (Even more than my 18 million ovens post.)

So click through to my slideshow to meet some of the people affected by sediment buildup in regional shipping channels.

Economy
10:43 am
Wed July 6, 2011

When an inch means a ton (or 267 tons, to be precise)

Chart courtesy of the Great Lakes Maritime Task Force

Who knew an inch could make such a difference?

In our piece this week on the Great Lakes dredging backlog, we introduced you to Mark Barker, president of The Interlake Steamship Company.  I called him “a man who measures revenue with a ruler.”

To see what that really means, check out the nifty chart from the Great Lakes Maritime Task Force (above).

It shows how much cargo a ship can hold for every inch of water it occupies. For the biggest vessels – the “thousand- footers” – one inch of draft corresponds to 267 tons of cargo. That’s why every bit of clearance matters to shippers trying to get the most bang from every trip.

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