Huntley elected to lead Great Lakes
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,
"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.