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Longer lakes season?

Adm. Roy Hoffman (USN, ret.), chairman of the Midwestern Ports Association and port director in Milwaukee, is going full steam ahead to develop the Great Lakes system.

"For economy of energy to the Atlantic trade routes, the seaway is incomparable," he insists. He hopes to make the St. Lawrence Seaway even more attractive, and so has appealed directly to President Carter for an extension os the 8 1/2-month shipping season.

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Admiral Hoffman backs up his arguments with economic studies showing that regularly scheduled Great Lakes-to-Europe shipping would be profitable. And he cites Army Corps of Engineers studies which play down Environmental Protection Agency concerns that more winter ice breaking may seriously damage wetlands, erode shorelines, endanger fish, and open the way for new oil-spill problems.

Admiral Hoffman says the combination of a short shipping season and having the only waterway in the US with freight tools has created a situation where "we have plenty of cargoes but no bottoms to ship them in."

Yet help may be on the way, thanks to the US House Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee.

The committee's new omnibus maritime bill, HR 6899 includes new shipping subsidies which, the committee reports states, would be intended to deal with "conditions on the Great Lakes."

The pending legislation, to amend the 1936 Merchant Marine Act, would permit the secretary of commerce to offer subsidies to US flag shipping lines to serve inadequately used foreign commerce routes.

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