Tuesday, September 11, 2012

GLC Reports & Resolutions At Great Lakes Week In Cleveland

Sep 11: Actions to reduce phosphorus loadings to the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River system were the focus of the Annual Meeting of the Great Lakes Commission (GLC), which kicked off Great Lakes Week in Cleveland this week. A GLC-led Regional Phosphorus Reduction Task Force released a report with more than 50 recommendations believed to be necessary elements of a comprehensive, binational effort to achieve and sustain meaningful reductions in nutrient pollution to the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River.

    GLC indicated in a release that phosphorus loadings, primarily from nonpoint sources, are the cause of the widely reported harmful algal blooms which have been prevalent in western Lake Erie in recent years. According to Dr. Jeff Reutter, director of Ohio Sea Grant and Stone Laboratory, the biomass produced in Lake Erie in 2011 exceeded the previous highest biomass years combined. Erie is the southernmost, shallowest and warmest of the Great Lakes. Lake Erie is very susceptible to HABs due to its size and the large amount of agricultural lands in the surrounding area.

    GLC hosted a special joint session with the International Joint Commission (IJC) to discuss actions to accelerate and target nutrient reduction efforts and achieve near-term results that will reduce the frequency and severity of harmful algal blooms and related water quality impacts in the Great Lakes. Dave Dempsey, special advisor to the IJC, presented the IJC's Lake Erie Ecosystem Priority (LEEP) to reduce phosphorus loads and algal blooms. LEEP plans to take the best science available to produce a series of review papers on various topics, including social/economic factors. A Lake Erie workshop will be held in February 2013 to review the draft reports. Recommendations to the governments are expected in fall 2013.

    The GLC released a second task force report focused on improving emergency preparedness and response in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River system. GLC Executive Director Tim Eder said, "The task force recommendations and the accompanying resolution adopted by the GLC will help ensure that the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River are well protected in the event of an oil or other hazardous material spill." Pipelines, vessels, facilities and cold weather response were the primary categories that were examined. The report was requested by the Great Lakes states and provinces in response to two notable spills in the last decade: the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, the largest in U.S. history, and, more recently, the Talmadge Creek (Kalamazoo River) spill near Marshall, Mich., one of the largest inland emergency response efforts in U.S. history.

    In addition to acknowledging receipt of the two reports, the GLC passed resolutions pertaining to renewable and clean energy, the Great Ships Initiative, U.S.-Canada procurement policies, and extending the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative beyond 2014

     The 8th Annual Great Lakes Restoration Conference in Cleveland is expected to attract more than 400 people from the states of Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, New York, Indiana, Illinois and Pennsylvania. Jeff Skelding, campaign director for the Healing Our Waters-(HOW) Great Lakes Coalition, which hosts the conference said, "The millions of people who depend on the Great Lakes for their drinking water, jobs and way of life deserve to know where President Obama and Governor Romney stand on restoring the largest source of fresh water in the world. We need the next president to show leadership on this issue. Great Lakes restoration is not a Democratic or Republican issue -- it is an issue of national significance and utmost urgency."
    A live webcast of the conference is available on HOW website courtesy of coverage by Detroit Public Television and Cleveland Ideastream. The conference, which runs September 11-13, comes as the presidential election heats up. Representatives of the Obama and Romney election campaigns will address the gathering Thursday, September 13, at 10:30 AM. Carol Browner, former White House Energy and Climate Change Director for President Obama and former EPA Administrator under President Clinton, will be representing the Obama campaign. The Romney campaign is confirming its representative.

    Access a release from GLC and link to the reports (click here). Access the HOW Coalition website for extensive information (click here).

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