Ballast water, wetlands, clean water among top Congressional priorities of the Great Lakes Commission

In unveiling its FY2009 federal legislative priorities today, the Great Lakes Commission is urging Congress and the administration to join Great Lakes states, cities, Tribal governments, industry, environmental organizations and others by increasing federal investment in the Great Lakes.

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 Commission’s priorities are consistent with and complement those of the Council of Great Lakes Governors.

“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,” said Michigan Lt. Gov. John Cherry, chair of the Great Lakes Commission. “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 Commission will present its annual list of federal legislative priorities to Congress on Feb. 28, 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.

Among the Commission’s highest priority are:

  • 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 to complete a barrier to prevent Asian carp from migrating into the lakes from the Mississippi drainage.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Appropriating $1.35 billion nationwide to protect water quality by restoring funding to the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, which was cut significantly in 2008. The program is essential to updating sewerage systems and improving coastal health in the Great Lakes and nationwide.

The full list of the Commission’s FY2009 legislative priorities is available at www.glc.org/restore.

For immediate release: February 21, 2008
Contact:
 Tim Eder, teder@glc.org

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The Great Lakes Commission, chaired by Lt. Gov. John Cherry (Mich.), is an interstate compact agency established under state and U.S. federal law and dedicated to promoting a strong economy, healthy environment and high quality of life for the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence region and its residents. The Commission consists of governors’ appointees, state legislators, and agency officials from its eight member states. Associate membership for Ontario and Québec was established through the signing of a “Declaration of Partnership.” The Commission maintains a formal Observer programinvolving U.S. and Canadian federal agencies, tribal authorities, binational agencies and other regional interests. The Commission offices are located in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

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