must protect Great Lakes
Published June 15, 2004
Members of Congress at a congressional forum recently
began pushing for real action to head off growing problems
with the Great Lakes.
To them, we say, "Amen."
Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill, and Rep. Mark Kirk, R-Ill.,
have introduced a bill that would authorize $4 billion
a year for Great Lakes restoration projects.
Kirk said Lake Michigan faces a growing threat from mercury
pollution, invasive species and polluted harbors. He called
for stricter enforcement of the Clean Air Act to lessen
pollution from coal-fired power plants and dismissed the
notion that sound environmental policy was bad for the
What hurts Lake Michigan, eventually threatens Lake Erie.
Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, who started the Great Lakes
Cities Initiative to foster cooperation among cities along
the lakes, told the panel the federal government needs
to coordinate its policy for the lakes instead of spreading
it among multiple agencies.
President Bush last month named a 10-member Cabinet-level
task force to coordinate Great Lakes cleanup efforts among
states, federal agencies and Canada.
The General Accounting Office last year found that 33
federal and 17 state programs spent more than $1.7 billion
on environmental restoration of the Great Lakes, but the
efforts were uncoordinated and the results difficult to
measure. A report by the new task force on clean-up coordination
is due next spring.
While Daley and the members of the panel praised Bush
for paying attention to the lakes, they said he has cut
funding for programs to help with water and sewer projects
and that another study and report is unnecessary.
Ohio's lawmakers have been active and outspoken in pushing
for action on the Great Lakes.
They should jump on the bandwagon to build pressure on
the federal bureaucracy not to allow lake problems to
Lake Erie has come a long way in the past three or four
decades thanks to tougher pollution standards and greater
awareness on the part of the general public, local political
subdivisions and industry.
We cannot allow the progress of recent years to be ruined
by inaction as new threats develop.
From a growing number of invasive species to new pollution
threats, the lakes are at risk.
Lake Erie and the rest of the Great Lakes are an incredible
national treasure, and they play a huge role in the quality
of life for the millions of people who live in the region.
Reps. Paul Gillmor, R-Old Fort; Marcy Kaptur, D-Toledo;
and others who serve the Lake Erie area must continue
to focus on the lake's value and the responsibility of
the federal government to help protect it and its sister