pushes lakes bill
The News-Messenger (OH)
Published March 8th, 2005
Federal legislation has been introduced that would create
a multi-year grant program that would aid state and municipal
governments in projects important to the long-term future
of the Great Lakes region.
U.S. Sen. Mike DeWine, R-Ohio, co-chairman of the Senate
Great Lakes Task Force, has introduced the Great Lakes
Environmental Restoration Act, co-sponsored by Sen. Carl
The five Great Lakes are a national resource that contain
one-fifth of the worldwide freshwater and many globally
rare species, some found only in the Great Lakes, DeWine
As co-chairs of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force, DeWine
and Levin have worked on legislation and other initiatives
to protect the lakes. In recent years, they have secured
funding for water level gauges, the electric dispersal
barrier in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal and sea
lamprey control through the Great Lakes Fishery Commission.
In addition, they have worked to prevent water from the
lakes from being diverted abroad and to address harmful
DeWine said, however, that more work needs to be done.
Challenges facing the lakes include the approximately
600 beach closings due to E.coli bacteria in 2001 and
the nearly 1,400 fish consumption advisories in the Great
Lakes, along with the more than 60 aquatic invasive species
now in the Great Lakes.
"We need to refocus and improve our efforts in order
to reverse the trend of additional degradation of the
Great Lakes," DeWine said. "They are a unique
natural resource for Ohio and the entire region -- a resource
that must be protected for future generations.
The Great Lakes Environmental Restoration Act creates
a $6 billion Great Lakes Restoration Grant Program to
augment existing federal and state efforts to clean, protect
and restore the Great Lakes. Annually, $600 million would
be appropriated through the EPA's Great Lakes National
Program Office grants to states, municipalities, and other
applicants in coordination with the Great Lake Environmental
Restoration Advisory Board.
This board, led by the Great Lakes governors and made
up of mayors, federal agencies, Native American tribes,
environmentalists, industry representatives and Canadian
observers, would provide recommendations on which grant
applications to fund and prioritize restoration projects.
The act also permanently establishes the Great Lakes
Interagency Task Force that was created by executive order
last May. The task force will allow better coordination
of federal programs in the Great Lakes.
Additional co-sponsors include Sens. Debbie Stabenow,
D-Mich., Richard Lugar, R-Ind., Evan Bayh, D-Ind., Mark
Dayton, D-Minn. and Herb Kohl, D-Wis.