Coastal or short sea shipping can remove tens of thousands of trucks from our roads and highways every day, significantly impacting our environment and infrastructure, making our roads safer and less congested, and bringing savings to consumers, shippers and taxpayers.
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Honolulu (Vocus) December 3, 2008
U.S. Congress is currently drafting the 2009 economic stimulus package, and The Green Marine Highway Initiative is in contention for inclusion, as it will create over 20,000 new jobs in shipbuilding, steel fabrication, marine propulsion, cargo handling and new ship manning.
Over 20,000 trucks travel on the East and West Coast corridors daily, using fuel from foreign resources and adding to the harmful effects of global warming. The Green Marine Highway Initiative will remove these trucks from highways and shift their freight onto 66 fuel-efficient ships, cutting carbon emissions, saving shippers money, reducing the effects of global warming and lowering the U.S.'s dependency on foreign oil.
The cost to taxpayers would be around $250 million for U.S.-backed loan guarantees to generate $3.3 billion in new shipbuilding as well as $1.7 billion in upgrades for ports and harbors.
In addition, U.S. law, the Jones Act, requires that all coastal ships be built in the United States and manned by U.S. crews. Therefore, the work cannot be outsourced to foreign competitors and so will create new jobs for shipbuilders and steel makers in the Great Lakes, the Gulf Coast, and along the East and West Coasts.
The campaign recently picked up the endorsement of Caterpillar Marine Power Systems, which would provide marine engines to power the new ships.
Stas Margaronis, president of California-based Santa Maria Shipowning & Trading, Inc., has been spearheading the Marine Highway movement with his report ''Green Ships Can Fight Global Warming.'' "The report is based on a ten-year effort to build fuel-efficient, low-emission ships to transport freight on U.S. marine highways," said Margaronis. "Coastal or short sea shipping can remove tens of thousands of trucks from our roads and highways every day, significantly impacting our environment and infrastructure, making our roads safer and less congested, and bringing savings to consumers, shippers and taxpayers."
Next Steps for the Green Marine Highway Initiative
The initial fleet of 66 ships can be financed with $165 million through U.S. Maritime Administration Title XI loan guarantees. However, Congress must first authorize the funding. Using Title XI, taxpayers would only spend $165 million to guarantee $3.3 billion in bank loans for construction. This equates to $50 million for a ship that will carry 300 53-foot truckloads of cargo. In addition, $85 million is proposed for port and shipyard improvements that would guarantee $1.7 billion in loans. In total, $250 million will guarantee $5 billion in marine highway guarantees.
Margaronis is seeking signatures on an electronic petition that will be sent to Congress urging the allocation of the funds to reactivate the US Maritime Administration's Title XI loan guarantee program. This will facilitate the financing of 66 American built ships to transport truckloads by water. For more information on the Green Ships initiative and to sign the petition, please visit http://www.GreenShips.org .
About Stas Margaronis
As president of Santa Maria Shipowning & Trading http://www.santamariashipping.com , Margaronis has sought to construct small container ships for the U.S. (Jones Act) trades since 1998 and worked with Governor Schwarzenegger's Freight Movement Council to develop a short sea shipping strategy for California. In February 2007, Margaronis testified before the U.S. House of Representatives transportation committee urging the creation of a national short sea shipbuilding initiative to reduce truck congestion, high fuel consumption and emissions contributing to global warming.
Margaronis' articles on trade and manufacturing have appeared in the Journal of Commerce, the Asian Wall Street Journal, the Baltimore Sun, the Saint Louis Post-Dispatch and the San Francisco Chronicle. He has authored a guide to U.S. employee rights (1982), a guide to U.S. trade problems with Japan (1989) and won a Lucy Lang Fellowship at the School for Industrial Relations at the University of California, Los Angeles.
(Note to media: to receive a full copy of the report or interview Stas Margaronis, please contact Caroline Witherspoon or Tess Staadecker at (808) 533-4165.)