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Great Lakes Lobby Day 2014

March 15, 2014

cap1On March 4 & 5, lake advocates from all eight Great Lakes States traveled to Washington D.C. for Great Lakes Day. This event includes an opportunity to be educated on Great Lakes issues and to meet with each state’s Congressional Delegation to request they support specific programs. This year the League was represented by Amy Little and Jeanette Neagu from Indiana, and Krista Grimm from Illinois.

Jeanette shared this report for Indiana (with thanks to HOW materials):

The event, organized by the Healing Our Waters®-Great Lakes Coalition (HOW), is now nine years old.  HOW Campaign Director Todd Ambs welcomed the advocates. Indiana’s eight advocates came from Northwest Indiana and Fort Wayne.  Save the Dunes Executive Director, Nicole Barker, was the delegation coordinator.  Delegates met with Senator Donnelly and the environmental staff from Senator Coates’ office, as well as Representatives Donnelly and Stuzman and the legislative staff of other Congressmen.

This year the legislative focus was on:

  • maintaining Great Lakes funding at $300 million in FY2015.  The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) has brought about hundreds of real on-the-ground success stories across the Great Lakes Basin. The results have demonstrated how important these funds are to the environmental AND economic health of the region. It is imperative that this work to protect and restore the Great Lakes continues.
  • the Great Lakes Ecological and Economic Protection Act, “GLEEPA” (S 1232 & HR 2773). A new, permanent Great Lakes restoration framework is needed. This bill has been introduced by the bipartisan leaders of the House and Senate Great Lakes Task Forces to authorize several critical, existing Great Lakes programs (including GLRI) and strengthen coordination with stakeholders and bi-national cooperation with Canada.
  • Waters of the United States Rule Making. Millions of Americans depend on the health of our rivers, lakes, streams, wetlands, and coastal waters for drinking water, recreation, and their livelihoods. The USEPA will very soon release a draft rule to clarify how the Clean Water Act protects those resources.
  • next steps to address the serious threat that invasive species, including Asian carp, pose to the Great Lakes. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers study released in January 2014 was important to determine the best way to permanently prevent the transfer of invasive species. Now help is needed to ensure that the Corps’ study is followed by meaningful actions to move forward towards separating the basins without delay.
  • Clean Water State Revolving Fund. Nearly 20 billion gallons of sewage were discharged into the Great Lakes in 2011, closing beaches, threatening public health and damaging local economies. Communities depend on the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) to implement costly wastewater infrastructure projects and update antiquated water systems. The Clean Water SRF will provide approximately $530 million for the eight Great Lakes states in 2014, and we need that funding to remain at the 2014 level, $1.5 billion, in 2015.

Attendees also enjoyed a panel presentation on partnership-based solutions to improve water quality and enhance conservation. Topics covered included the implementation of the new Farm Bill Regional Conservation Partnership Program, reducing runoff to Green Bay, and the Fox River phosphorus trading program.

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