If I could write a letter to President Obama in reaction to his State of the Union Address Wednesday night, I would thank him for underscoring a few things that are important to all of us involved in the maritime industry. He called for opening up new offshore areas for oil and gas development. That’s good for the offshore industry and for the tank barges that carry petroleum-related products. He said we should invest in clean coal technologies. That’s good for our barges that carry coal. He said that America must lead the global economy and export more of its goods abroad. That would be good for our tugs, barges and other vessels that help getting our products to overseas markets.
But I cringed when the president, as many of his predecessors have done, mentioned the importance of railroads and interstate highways, but not a word about ships and barges, which are an integral part of our transportation network. Yet again, shipping was ignored and excluded. Someone should invite the former senator from Illinois, a Great Lakes state with a river running through it, to spend a few hours on a tug, barge or ship. He might get a very different perspective on the state of the union — from the eyes of the nation’s mariners.