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MLC Midwest-Canada Relations Committee »


Midwest-Canada Relations


Issue Briefs

"Governments trying to address border inefficiencies that raise business costs, consumer prices" »
"Power of two: Canada, U.S. rely on one another in interconnected energy relationship" »
"More than just neighbors: Trade between two countries is powerful economic engine" »


Michigan looks to Ontario as provider in plan to boost Upper Peninsula’s electricity supply

by Ilene Grossman ~ January 2017 ~ Stateline Midwest »
Michigan lawmakers are looking for ways to improve the availability, reliability and affordability of electricity in the state’s Upper Peninsula, and one potential solution is to bring in more power from neighboring Ontario.
In a letter this fall, the province backed Michigan’s request for the Midcontinent Independent System Operator to study the idea of extending electric-generating connections across the U.S.-Canada border. More »


Work on new bridge at vital Detroit-Windsor trade corridor could begin as soon as 2018

by Ilene Grossman ~ December 2016 ~ Stateline Midwest »
Design and construction of a new international bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ont., could begin in just over a year. Every year, approximately 2.5 million trucks travel through the corridor (in addition to passenger vehicles); they currently use the more-than-80-year-old Ambassador Bridge. It remains unclear when the new bridge will open; initial plans had targeted the year 2020. More »


‘Buy America’-type rules at odds with vitality of cross-border supply chains

by Ilene Grossman ~ October 2016 ~ Stateline Midwest »
Goods officially counted as “Canadian made” often include components made in the United States, and vice versa. In 2014, U.S. content accounted for nearly $70 billion of the value of Canadian manufacturing output (8.5 percent of the total value), according to a report commissioned and released this year by the Embassy of Canada; likewise, Canadian content in U.S. manufacturing totaled roughly $44 billion (2.5 percent of the value of U.S. exports). More »



U.S., Canada look to expand preclearance program from airports to other travel modes

by Ilene Grossman ~ August 2016 ~ Stateline Midwest »
Fourteen years after a binational agreement between Canada and the United States led to the use of preclearance facilities at select airports, a legislative push is on to expand the program to other modes of travel between the two countries. More »


Small-business barriers to exporting inspire ‘hackathon’ to improve border procedures

by Ilene Grossman ~ April 2016 ~ Stateline Midwest »
For many small businesses, trying to export goods across the U.S.-Canada border for the first time can be both time-consuming and discouraging. “Its first experience may be its last,” Adam Schlosser says about a business and its initial experience with the “paperwork and difficulties at the border.” But could there be an “app”
to help fix that? More »



Citing benefits of continental market, U.S., Canada, Mexico pursue closer ties on energy

by Ilene Grossman ~ March 2016 ~ Stateline Midwest »
Canada and the United States have long been each other’s most important energy partners, with annual trade between the two countries in this economic sector at nearly $100 billion. Cross-border pipelines bring natural gas and oil south to major U.S. markets, and two Midwestern states, Minnesota and North Dakota, imported 12 percent of their electricity from Canada in 2014. “North America is an integrated market,” notes Dan D’Autremont, speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan. But leaders at the federal, state and provincial levels are taking steps now to deepen the two countries’ relationship. More »


Facing costly tariffs, U.S. puts end to trade dispute by repealing country-of-origin labeling rule

by Ilene Grossman ~ January 2016 ~ Stateline Midwest »
Within days after a World Trade Organization decision in December authorizing substantial retaliatory tariffs on U.S. exports to Canada and Mexico, the long-simmering trade dispute over country-of-origin labeling ended. More »


Trusted-traveler program is helping cross-border travelers save time and money

by Ilene Grossman ~ October 2015 ~ Stateline Midwest »
The NEXUS trusted-traveler initiative is helping people travel more seamlessly between the United States and Canada, but policy experts say program enrollment has been hampered by an inconvenient, unclear application process. More »


New binational standards aim to improve safety of oil shipments by rail

by Ilene Grossman ~ June 2015 ~ Stateline Midwest »
Two years ago, an explosive fire caused by a rail tanker car carrying crude oil took 47 lives and destroyed much of the downtown Québec city of Lac Megantic. A number of nonfatal fires involving oil-carrying trains have followed, most recently this year in Illinois and North Dakota. These incidents have raised safety concerns on both sides of the border, as well as this question: What can governments do to prevent the accidents from occurring? This spring, a mix of new federal and state standards were unveiled that set new rules for tanker cars and what is being loaded on them. More »


Border bottlenecks expected to ease after U.S., Canada agree to allow traveler prescreening

by Ilene Grossman ~ April 2015 ~ Stateline Midwest »
The United States and Canada signed a preclearance agreement in March that will allow people traveling from one country to the other to be prescreened before they cross the border. When fully implemented, this Agreement on Land, Rail, Marine, and Air Transport will allow U.S. agents to be stationed in Canada (and Canadian agents in the United States) and to carry out immigration, customs and agriculture inspections of people entering the U.S. from Canada by any mode of transportation. A preclearance program for airline passengers is already in place at eight of the largest Canadian airports; it will be expanded under the new accord. More »


Customs-plaza pact removes last hurdle for new Detroit-Windsor bridge

by Ilene Grossman ~ March 2015 ~ Stateline Midwest »
The busiest commercial border crossing in North America may finally be on its way to expansion. On February 18, the U.S. and Canadian governments and the state of Michigan announced an agreement to build and operate a new U.S. customs plaza, one of the last major hurdles to the construction of a new bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario. More »


U.S., Canada look to ease flow of skilled workers across border

by Ilene Grossman ~ February 2015 ~ Stateline Midwest »
Moving workers across the United States’ northern border can be a challenge, one that interferes with a person’s ability to obtain a temporary job and can impact business operations as well. But both the United States and Canada are taking steps to fix this problem, with the dual goals of easing skills shortages in certain economic sectors and giving unemployed workers more options. More »


Despite trade rise under NAFTA, cross-border regulatory hurdles still hurting business, report says

by Ilene Grossman ~ January 2015 ~ Stateline Midwest »
In the 20 years since the North American Free Trade Agreement took effect, trade between the United States and Canada has tripled, but those gains have occurred despite ongoing — and often unnecessary — hurdles to cross-border business, according to a recent study by the Canadian Council of Chief Executives. “The report is striking because it acknowledges that the NAFTA objective of a single market for goods and services hasn’t been achieved,” notes Christopher Sands, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. More »


World’s first commercial-scale carbon-capture coal plant opens in Saskatchewan

by Ilene Grossman ~ November 2014 ~ Stateline Midwest »
In early October, a facility in the province of Saskatchewan became the first commercial-scale coal-fired plant with carbon capture and storage capability in the world. The Boundary Dam Power Station is run by SaskPower, a crown corporation — meaning it is owned by the provincial government but operates like a private company. The plant uses clean coal technology to prevent most of its carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide emissions from being released into the atmosphere. More »


With rise in rail transport of crude oil through region, new calls for tougher safety standards

by Ilene Grossman ~ October 2014 ~ Stateline Midwest »
On an average day in Minnesota, seven oil-carrying trains cross the state, usually through the heavily populated Twin Cities area. Each train has an average of 110 cars containing 3.3 million gallons of oil, for a total of 23 million gallons of crude oil crossing through the state each day. The increased activity in Minnesota reflects a national trend: huge growth in the shipment of crude oil by rail, from 9,500 rail carloads in 2008 to 415,000 in 2013. And the safety of these shipments has become a greater concern in the Midwest, in part because of recent serious rail accidents and explosions involving oil tanker cars in the United States and Canada. More »


Dust pollution from open petcoke piles sparks push in Illinois, Michigan for enclosed storage

by Ilene Grossman ~ May 2014 ~ Stateline Midwest »
During the last year, residents of neighborhoods in Chicago and Detroit have had to deal with growing piles of petroleum coke, or petcoke. These piles were often left uncovered, allowing winds to disperse black dust into surrounding communities and nearby waterways. How can and should this residue be safely stored and transported? Proposed legislation in Illinois and Michigan would provide greater oversight and require more of the facilities storing the petcoke (storage is usually not done by the refinery, but instead by an outside
company). More »


Binational effort on reducing economically harmful regulatory conflicts moves ahead, but slowly

by Ilene Grossman ~ February 2014 ~ Stateline Midwest »
February 2014 marks the three-year anniversary of a joint U.S.-Canada effort to reduce unnecessary regulatory differences that raise the cost of doing business across the border — and can raise prices for consumers as well. President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Stephen Harper created the U.S.-Canada Regulatory Cooperation Council to guide bilateral work to streamline and harmonize regulations. Despite sometimes slow progress, the council has moved ahead with several projects. More »


Legislators voice concerns about Ontario proposal to store nuclear waste near Lake Huron

by Lisa Janairo ~ November 2013 ~ Stateline Midwest »
Ontario Power Generation is planning to build a deep geologic repository less than a mile from Lake Huron in order to store its nuclear waste. The repository, if licensed, could open by 2018. It would be the first permanent disposal facility for radioactive waste to operate in the Great Lakes basin. More »


Governments trying to address border inefficiencies that raise business costs, consumer prices

by Ilene Grossman ~ February 2013 ~ Stateline Midwest »
With the North American economy becoming ever more integrated, delays at the U.S.-Canada border have the potential to cost more and more money. More »


U.S. and Canadian economies closely intertwined, but barriers to optimal trade remain an issue

by Ilene Grossman ~ December 2012 ~ Stateline Midwest »
The U.S. and Canadian economies are closely intertwined, but barriers to optimal trade remain an issue. States and provinces can and should have a role in helping remove these barriers. More »


Energy interdependence between U.S., Canada will play major role in both countries’ future

by Ilene Grossman ~ Stateline Midwest »
Canada is the largest supplier of energy to the United States, providing 9 percent of this country’s energy needs — more than Saudi Arabia and Venezuela combined. These statistics, and other information related to bilateral energy trade, were the focus of a joint meeting this summer of the MLC’s Energy and Midwest-Canada Relations committees. More »



‘Buy American’ provisions of Jobs Act raise concern of harm to firms on both sides of border

by Ilene Grossman ~ December 2011 ~ Stateline Midwest »
Provisions in President Obama’s proposed jobs plan that would require certain projects to use only American-sourced materials have sparked fear over potential damage to the United States’ largest trading partnership — with its cross-border neighbor Canada. More »




Decision on oil pipeline runs through Midwest: Nebraska shows role for states in project that aims to boost U.S. use of Canadian oil

by Ilene Grossman ~ December 2011 ~ PDF of Stateline Midwest article »
TransCanada has faced many hurdles in its multi-year effort to get a new 1,700-mile oil pipeline built.
But this fall, the energy infrastructure company ran up against perhaps its stiffest opposition yet — from concerned residents and lawmakers in the state of Nebraska. More »


Manitoba's hydro power has states looking north to meet energy needs

by Tim Anderson ~ November 2011 ~ Stateline Midwest
In the early 1960s, the first electricity transmission connection between Manitoba and North Dakota was completed. It is a cross-border energy partnership still going and growing 50 years later, and for some in the upper Midwest, the abundant supply of hydroelectric power being produced in Manitoba is more attractive than
ever. More »


How much Canadian oil and gas are imported into the Midwest?

by Ilene Grossman ~ July-August 2011 ~ Question of the Month
The U.S. is a net energy importer in terms of oil and gas trade with Canada. Canada’s energy exports to the United States were valued at $76 billion in 2009, while U.S. exports to Canada were valued at $11.5 billion. Canada provides 21 percent of U.S. crude oil imports (nearly 2.5 million barrels a day) and 87 percent of U.S. natural gas imports.  More »