Last Friday, The Seaway Channel had the opportunity to talk with U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary E. Peters, Deputy Secretary VADM Thomas J. Barrett, St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation (SLSDC) Administrator Collister “Terry” Johnson, Jr. and other member of the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) senior management team. The interview session was the first of its kind, designed for “new media” organizations with online publications.
Secretary Peters’ remarks emphasized the efforts that DOT is making to find transportation solutions which improve safety, efficiency and the environment at the same time. While deferring any direct questions about the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Seaway System to Johnson, she spoke highly of Johnson’s work on Seaway infrastructure investment and ballast water treatment issues.
The Department of Transportation’s budget request for the upcoming fiscal year reflects the biggest percentage increase of any agency within DOT and Secretary Peters has been a strong advocate for that budget request both within the Administration and on Capitol Hill. Additionally, DOT officials had praise for the new ballast water regulatory regime being put in place by the SLSDC and their Canadian counterparts at the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation. The new ballast water program should help dramatically limit the introduction of new invasive species into the Great Lakes ecosystem.
Johnson, who had just returned from an event in Montreal designed to highlight the new ballast water regulatory regime expressed his strong feelings that the two Seaway agencies have taken an important step in the process of halting the introduction of new invasive species in ballast water. “The two governments are working together to do something about this issue. The industry understands the importance of this issue and is willing to work with us. This combined effort is going to produce results in terms of protecting the Great Lakes ecosystem without damaging the Great Lakes economy.”