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  W E E K L Y  U P D A T E   December 18, 2017
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Briefing Held to Highlight Maritime Issues on Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Maritime Day

The Northeast-Midwest Institute and the Conference of Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Governors and Premiers hosted a briefing focusing on critical maritime issues impacting the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Region on December 14, 2017. Speakers addressed the status and importance of the Soo Locks, the future of autonomous vessels, and the potential to expand tourism in the Great Lakes with cruise lines. The briefing was part of a larger gathering in Washington, D.C. of regional stakeholders and Congressional staffers participating in Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Maritime Day. Stakeholders attended the briefing in preparation for their Congressional office visits throughout the rest of the day.

A summary of the briefing, a timestamped recording, and copies of the presentation slides can be found here.

Information on NEMWI's Great Lakes Washington Program, which co-hosted the briefing, can be found here.

Mike Piskur, Program Manager with the Conference of Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Governors and Premiers, began the briefing with an overview of the Conference's strategic goals and ongoing policy priorities at the federal level, including dredging, icebreaking, and increased cooperation with Canadian partners. He also emphasized the economic impact of vital water transportation infrastructure in the region-especially the Soo Locks, the closure of which he asserted would trigger a nationwide recession due to disruption of the American steel industry's supply chain.

Bruce Nierenberg, President and CEO at Victory Cruise Lines, discussed his recent experiences in expanding the cruise industry in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence region. He asserted that the unique geography and atmosphere of the Great Lakes provides many advantages to cruise lines, and that a robust cruise tourism industry would lead to stronger economic growth in the region. His presentation encouraged stakeholders and regional leaders to become more engaged in branding the Great Lakes as a major cruising destination.

For more information, please contact  Matthew McKenna , Director of the Great Lakes Washington Program at the Northeast-Midwest Institute.
Controversial EPA Pick
Withdraws Nomination

Michael Dourson, President Trump's nominee to lead the EPA's chemical safety programs, withdrew his nomination last Wednesday. Dourson's nomination was controversial from the beginning. He had previously led a chemical safety testing company that did business with many of the companies he would oversee in his role at the EPA.

There were also concerns that much of the research performed by Dourson's company was used to downplay the risks of certain chemicals, leading two Republican senators to come out against the nomination last month.

The withdrawal may have been related to emails, reported by the New York Times last Wednesday, that demonstrated ongoing contact between Dourson and members of the chemical industry even after Dourson was nominated for the EPA position.

Dourson has been serving as an adviser to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt even while Dourson's nomination was ongoing. It is unclear at this time if he will remain in this role.

For more information, please contact Joe Vukovich, Senior Policy Analyst, at the Northeast-Midwest Institute.
This Week on Capitol Hill

Congress will take up a final conference report of H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The bill lowers both the corporate and individual income tax rates, while repealing numerous tax credits and deductions. A summary of the conference agreement can be found here and the Joint Explanatory Statement can be viewed here.

Additionally, Congress will continue to work to come to an agreement this week to keep the government funded past December 22, the day the current continuing resolution is set to expire.

A full list of key Congressional committee activity that impacts the region can be viewed below:

Wednesday, December 20
For more information, please email .

NEMWI: Strengthening the Region that Sustains the Nation