Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Groups Urge Full Funding For Great Lakes Restoration Initiative

Jan 25: The Great Lakes Commission (GLC) announced that 15 Great Lakes regional organizations are urging President Obama to maintain or exceed funding of $475 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) in the Federal budget for FY 2011. The initiative was proposed by the Obama Administration as a five-year, comprehensive restoration plan for the Great Lakes. The region’s congressional leaders secured $475 million in FY 2010, the initiative’s first year. Implementation is moving forward, with nearly $150 million currently being offered for projects that address critical problems facing the Great Lakes. In addition, the U.S. EPA is finalizing a five-year action plan for the GLRI that sets outcome-oriented performance goals and criteria for measuring progress.

In a letter to President Obama the groups said, “While the GLRI is off to a strong start we need sustained funding to fulfill your commitment, build on past investments and ensure the GLRI’s long-term success.” The letter acknowledged the broad support for the initiative within the region, noting that it has been endorsed by the Great Lakes governors, states, cities, tribes, conservation groups, business and industry. The letter noted that “substantial momentum is in place to carry the Initiative forward over its five-year timeframe.” The President is expected to submit his budget proposal to Congress on February 1.

The letter was signed by the following entities: Great Lakes Commission; Alliance for the Great Lakes; Chippewa Ottawa Resource Authority; Council of Great Lakes Fishery Agencies; Council of Great Lakes Industries; Council of Lake Committees; Ducks Unlimited, Great Lakes/Atlantic Region; Great Lakes Fishery Commission; Great Lakes Metro Chambers Coalition; Great Lakes United; Healing Our Waters - Great Lakes Coalition; National Parks Conservation Association; National Wildlife Federation, Great Lakes Regional Center; Natural Resources Defense Council, Midwest Regional Office; and The Nature Conservancy.

Access a release from GLC with additional information (click here).

Attorneys General Request Seat At Asian Carp Meeting

Jan 25: Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox and his counterparts in Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin called on the Obama administration to immediately meet with them to hear first-hand the concerns of job makers and families across the region over the immediate threat of Asian carp. Cox said, "It is our hope the bi-partisan team of Attorneys General leading the battle to protect jobs and the Lakes will have a seat at the table with the White House to help find a solution to this crisis."

Michigan Governor Granholm and Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, have confirmed that the Great Lakes Governors or their designees intend to meet in early February [See WIMS 1/21/10]. The letter from the attorneys general was signed by Attorney General Cox; Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller; Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray; Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett; and Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen. The letter indicates, "As the Attorneys General who are litigating the Asian carp controversy and have been serving on the front lines of a bi-partisan battle to protect the ecology and economy of our region, we are formally requesting that you and your administration include us in any such meetings addressing the Asian carp emergency."

Cox indicated in a release "that President Obama, who pledged a zero tolerance policy for new invasive species in the Great Lakes, should act immediately to at least temporarily close the locks." He indicated that last week new DNA evidence of Asian carp was found in Lake Michigan at Calumet Harbor [See WIMS 1/20/10], past both the so-called electrical barrier and the O'Brien locks. Cox, a Republican gubernatorial candidate indicated that, "If President Obama continues to favor Illinois at the expense of other states, Michigan and the other states backing his efforts will need help from Congress." He praised the bi-partisan efforts of Michigan's Congressional delegation on the issue, including Representatives Dave Camp, Vern Ehlers, and Candice Miller; and Senators Levin and Stabenow.

Access a release from the MI AG and link to the letter (
click here).