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Great Lakes Article:

Coordinated efforts needed for Great Lakes
Port Clinton News Herald

Sens. George Voinovich and Mike DeWine, Ohio's senators, and other Great Lakes lawmakers introduced a bill last week that would authorize $6 billion over the next decade to clean up the basin. The bill also would create a national office to oversee and coordinate cleanup efforts.

The coordination and a national policy for the Great Lakes are badly needed.

There are dozens of programs designed to clean up things such as contaminated sediments and invasive species in the Great Lakes.

A recent report from the General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress, found that 33 federal and 17 state programs have spent more than $1.7 billion on environmental restoration programs for the Great Lakes.

Yet when challenged recently by Voinovich, who is chairman of the Government Affairs subcommittee on oversight of government management, representatives of the various agencies couldn't point to anyone as directing the overall effort.

This is clearly a situation that leaves the door open for duplication, waste and misdirection.

Too many agencies trying to provide control of the many problems of the Great Lakes is clearly a situation that invites waste of the taxpayers money, creates the potential for unnecessary details and makes coordination of long-range projects difficult.

The GAO report criticized the lack of coordination between state and federal agencies. It argued that the clean water legislation passed in 1987 put the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Great Lakes National Program Office in charge.

Those who represent the states, however, believe the governors should have control of the direction of the environmental efforts that directly affect their states.

This is an issue that needs to be resolved.

Without leadership, there is inefficiency, waste and delays.

As Dewine said in talking about his effort, there needs to be a national policy and commitment for the Great Lakes.

Lake Erie and the other lakes are a tremendous resource that has an impact on the health, financial well-being and quality of life of millions of people.

This cannot be taken lightly.

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