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Great Lakes Article:

Huntley elected to lead Great Lakes Commission
By Scott Thistle
Duluth News Tribune (MN)
Published October 6th, 2004


Minnesota state Rep. Tom Huntley, DFL-Duluth, on Tuesday was elected chairman of the Great Lakes Commission, a binational agency representing the eight U.S. states and two Canadian provinces that border the Great Lakes.

Huntley is the first Minnesotan to serve as the commission's chairman in the past 12 years and said the unanimous election to the post is a highlight of his career.

"It's the biggest political job that I've ever had, and this is a crucial time for the Great Lakes," Huntley said late Tuesday from Toronto, where he was attending the annual commission meeting.

A number of recent actions, including the formation of a federal Great Lakes task force and a new compact between the governors and premiers of the Great Lakes on water diversion, make the job important, Huntley said. A federally chartered organization, the commission frequently pushes the U.S. Congress and the Canadian Parliament for laws aimed at restoring, protecting and enhancing the environmental quality of the lakes.

Huntley has served in the Legislature since 1992 and is seeking re-election to a sixth term.

His posting was greeted with enthusiasm by Rep. Jim Oberstar, D-Minn.

"Tom's experience as a professor, Duluth city councilor and as a Minnesota legislator has prepared him well for this job as a steward of one-fifth of all the fresh water on the face of the Earth," Oberstar said in a prepared statement issued by the commission.

As a Duluthian, Huntley said one of his priorities is improving the function of the city's port and ensuring it remains a viable part of the region's economy for decades. In the works is a proposed expansion of the Soo Locks, which would allow more trips by 1,000-foot lakers during the abbreviated shipping season. That project would be built with money from the federal government that will be matched with money from the Great Lakes states.

Overflowing sanitary sewers that pollute Lake Superior are also a huge concern for the commission, he said.

"This is a huge issue not just in Duluth and Two Harbors but all over," he said.

Huntley said he would use his new position to further pressure the federal government to help cities pay for controlling these overflows.

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