Great Lakes Wind Collaborative
More than 120 Great Lakes policymakers and business leaders interested in development of wind energy attended the first annual meeting of the Great Lakes Wind Collaborative, held May 6-7 in Buffalo, N.Y. The Wind Collaborative was created in 2007 to provide a forum to address issues affecting the planning, development and operation of wind power facilities in the Great Lakes region. The region's wind capacity has the potential to produce $80 billion in economic activity and 300,000 jobs for the Great Lakes region, according to recent Dept. of Energy findings. Participants took part in a field trip to "Steel Winds" on the former site of the Bethlehem steel plant on the Buffalo waterfront, the largest urban wind farm in the United States. The meeting included breakout sessions on both the benefits and challenges of a responsible wind future, and discussed the Wind Collaborative's near-term agenda and long-term priorities.
"The Great Lakes Wind Collaborative has the progressive vision, the talent and the entrepreneurship to advance the environmentally sustainable development of wind power," said New York Gov. David A. Paterson. "I am confident this Great Lakes initiative will be a world leader as our binational region seeks to usher in a new era of environmental consciousness."
The Commission provides staff support for the Wind Collaborative. Presentations and photos from the meeting are available at www.glc.org/energy/wind/conf2008.html. Contact: John Hummer, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Great Lakes Compact easily passes in Wisconsin legislature, leaving three states to approve
Acting in a special session May 15, both houses of the Wisconsin State Legislature passed the Great Lakes St. Lawrence River Basin Compact by wide margins. The vote in the Wisconsin Senate was 32-1 and in the Assembly 96-1. While both Chambers of the Michigan legislature recently approved separate legislation adopting the Compact, discussions continue on accompanying legislation to implement the Compact provisions and to finalize which Compact bill will be sent to the Governor for her signature. The interstate Compact, which provides a framework to protect Great Lakes waters from large scale diversion and promote wise water use, has now been ratified by five states. Those left to act on the Compact include Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Said Wisconsin Gov. James Doyle,"Wisconsin has been blessed with one of the world's most incredible natural resources. One of our greatest responsibilities is to preserve and protect the Great Lakes so that that our children and grandchildren have the same opportunities to enjoy the Lakes that we have today. The Great Lakes waters are also one of our greatest competitive advantages in a 21st Century global economy. In a world where water is becoming more precious, the Great Lakes help Wisconsin businesses grow and attract new businesses to our state. Thank you to the Legislature for bringing us a step closer towards enacting this compact that will help ensure a strong Wisconsin future." Contact: Tim Eder, email@example.com.
House passage of ballast bill turns attention to Senate
Passage in late April by the House of Representatives of Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2007 (H.R. 2830) by a vote of 395 to 7 marked a much-heralded first step toward federal control of ballast water as a vector for aquatic invasive species. The vote now sets the stage for Senate action.
The House bill, championed by Rep. James Oberstar (D-MN) as chair of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, requires ships to begin installing treatment standards in 2009, requires ships to meet stronger U.S. treatment standards starting in 2012 and sets a goal that ballast water discharged into U.S. waters contain no living organisms by 2015. Ballast water exchange would be required for all ocean-going ships - including those declaring "no ballast on board" - up until the time the treatment standards take effect in 2009.
Said Michigan Lt. Gov. and Great Lakes Commission chairman John Cherry, "This bill requires the federal government to accelerate actions that protect our Great Lakes and other waters nationwide. I urge members of the U.S. Senate to join in crafting a solution to stop aquatic invasive species from using ballast water as a pathway to the Great Lakes. As one of the few states to take strong independent action, I hope Congress will agree on a new federal law that Michigan and other states can strongly support." Contact: Tim Eder, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lake Carriers weigh in on growing surplus in Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund
A dredging backlog that has severely impacted maritime commerce and recreational boating in the Great Lakes could be easily eliminated if money collected by the federal government for harbor maintenance was actually used for that purpose, maritime interests told Congress recently. Testifying before the Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee recently, James H.I. Weakley, president of the Cleveland-based Lake Carriers' Association and a member of the Great Lakes Commission from Ohio, was critical of how the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) has been accumulating a surplus while dredging needs go unaddressed. In the Great Lakes alone, underfunding of dredging has caused a 17-million cubic yard backlog, and forced cargo carriers to operate far under capacity.
In 2007 the federal government collected $1.4 billion in Harbor Maintenance Taxes, a tax on the value of ship-borne cargo, but spent only $751 million to maintain the nation's deep-draft navigation system. The HMTF, which was created to collect money for dredging, now holds a $4.7 billion surplus which is applied to the general fund. "Federal ports and harbors cannot be fully maintained with existing Corps of Engineers funding levels," said Weakley. Contact: Dave Knight, email@example.com
Sam Speck, former GLC chair, confirmed as U.S. member of the IJC
Former Great Lakes Commission chair Sam Speck has been appointed by President George W. Bush and confirmed by the U.S. Senate as one of the three U.S. members of the International Joint Commission (IJC). Speck was GLC chair from 2002 to 2004; he was named to the Great Lakes Commission in 1999. Two of the three U.S. IJC members are now former GLC chairs, as Speck joins Irene Brooks who was GLC chair from 1997-1999.
Speck served for eight years as Ohio's Director of Natural Resources. He played a critical role in leading negotiations to develop the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact and Agreement, serving as chair of the Council of Great Lakes Governors and Premiers' Water Management Working Group, Prior to that, he was president of Muskingum College in New Concord, Ohio for over a decade. He also served as an associate director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency under President Ronald Reagan and as a member of the Ohio House and Senate for 13 years while on the Muskingum College faculty. In July 2004, he was one of three state officials in the United States to receive the National Governors Association's Annual Award for Distinguished Service in State Government.
GLOS holds annual meeting in Milwaukee
The Great Lakes Observing System (GLOS) held its annual meeting April 16-17 in Milwaukee, Wis., hosted by the Univ. of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Great Lakes WATER Institute. More than 50 participants learned about GLOS's modeling work in the Huron to Erie Corridor and plans for a Great Lakes Modeling and Assessment Center. Zdenka Willis, director of the NOAA Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) Program Office, offered her perspectives on the future of IOOS and funding for the regional associations, of which GLOS is one of 11. GLOS data management experts also unveiled a HarborView pilot project, which will enable online viewing of current lake conditions, harbor traffic and amenities for the more than 200 harbors on the Great Lakes. For more information, visit www.glos.us.
Regional Data Exchange workshops held in Chicago, Buffalo
Two workshops in a series on sharing and application of Great Lakes data were held May 1 and May 15 in Chicago and Buffalo respectively. The workshops, sponsored by the Great Lakes Commission, GLOS and NOAA, were aimed at members of federal, state, research and non-governmental communities who are engaged in generating, managing, distributing and using geospatial datasets to inform Great Lakes decisionmaking. For more information, visit http://rdx.glc.org. Contact: Roger Gauthier, firstname.lastname@example.org.