Friday, February 22, 2008

Great Lakes Commission Outlines Major Priorities

Feb 21: Michigan Lt. Governor John Cherry, Chairman of the Great Lakes Commission (GLC) reiterated the need for increased protection and preservation of the Great Lakes and urged lawmakers in Washington over the next year to increase Federal investments in Michigan's greatest natural resource. Cherry said, "With one-fifth of the Earth's surface freshwater supply, the Great Lakes are truly a world-class resource and a national treasure without peer. State, local, tribal and private interests contribute billions of dollars for Great Lakes protection. It is essential that the Federal government step up its support, recognizing that investing in the Great Lakes will protect a national asset and produce a good return for taxpayers' dollars."

Acting on behalf of its membership -- the Great Lakes states -- the GLC will present its annual list of Federal legislative priorities to Congress on February 28, which has been designated as Great Lakes Day in Washington. The annual event, held in conjunction with the Northeast-Midwest Institute and the Healing Our Waters® - Great Lakes Coalition, is designed to convey a unified message regarding Great Lakes needs and legislation to address them.

At the top of the list -- legislation to curb the introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species and to implement other key recommendations of the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration's Strategy to Restore and Protect the Great Lakes. The GLC said its priorities are consistent with and complement those of the Council of Great Lakes Governors.

The commission outlined four of its highest priorities -- (1) Enacting legislation to curb the introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species by ensuring that commercial vessels visiting Great Lakes ports meet uniform ballast water discharge requirements, providing funding to control invasive sea lamprey and complete a barrier to prevent Asian carp from migrating into the lakes from the Mississippi drainage. (2) Reauthorizing and fully funding the Great Lakes Legacy Act at $150 million a year to clean up contaminated hot spots in Great Lakes rivers and harbors [See WIMS 2/19/08]. (3) Appropriating $28.5 million to restore 200,000 acres of wetlands toward the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration strategy's goal of restoring 550,000 acres. (4) Appropriating $1.35 billion nationwide to protect water quality by restoring funding to the Clean Water State Revolving Fund - cut significantly in 2008. The program is essential to updating sewerage systems and improving coastal health in the Great Lakes and nationwide.

Access a release from Chairman Cherry (
click here). Access a full list of GLC's FY2009 legislative priorities, fact sheets and related information (click here).