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GLIN==> Congress urged to act on restoration needs

See www.glc.org/policy/gaolet.html
Contact: Dr. Michael J. Donahue, 734-971-9135, mdonahue@glc.org

The following correspondence, recently sent by the Great Lakes Commission to members of the Great Lakes Congressional Delegation, responded to the recent U.S. General Accounting Office report and associated developments. Please visit the Commission web site at www.glc.org for updates on other Commission advocacy efforts.

June 10, 2003

Great Lakes Congressional Delegation
Washington, DC

Dear Senator/Representative --------

The Great Lakes Commission has long been a vocal advocate for a well-coordinated and scientifically sound approach to restoration and protection in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence ecosystem.  We therefore applaud the recent release of the U.S. General Accounting Office report (An Overall Strategy and Indicators for Measuring Progress Are Needed to Better Achieve Restoration Goals) and urge careful consideration of its recommendations.

Founded in U.S. state and federal law, the Great Lakes Commission is mandated to promote informed public policy through communications, policy research and development, and advocacy.  The GAO report findings re-affirm concerns our membership has expressed in recent years through formal resolutions and other policy positions.  Simply stated, we need an overarching plan – with a consensus-based vision, goals, objectives and strategic actions – by which the restoration and protection efforts of governmental agencies at all levels are coordinated.  Further, we need a science-based decision support system to ensure that the priorities are established and addressed on the basis of best available information.

We believe that this unmet need can, and should, be promptly addressed through three specific actions that you can take as a member of the Great Lakes Congressional Delegation:

1)    Enact U.S. federal legislation that authorizes and funds development of a Great Lakes Restoration Plan.  Such legislation should provide for a state/federal partnership and consultation with relevant Canadian interests.  It should ensure leadership by the Council of Great Lakes Governors, and be guided by the ongoing work of the Council’s Restoration Priorities Task Force.  It should also provide for input from all sectors of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence community.  Such legislation is a priority of the Great Lakes Commission, and is embodied in  its 2003 statement titled The Great Lakes Program to Ensure Environmental and Economic Prosperity.

2)    Strengthen science-based decisionmaking by enacting S. 1116, the Great Lakes Water Quality Monitoring Implementation Act.  Recently introduced in response to GAO report recommendations, this legislation can help establish the scientific foundation for restoration plan implementation.  It’s focus on a consistent and coordinated binational approach is applauded by our membership, which unanimously adopted a resolution last month calling for data exchange partnerships and standardization of decision support tools.

3)    Urge the U.S. and Canadian federal governments to undertake a comprehensive review of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement and revise, if needed, to reflect current restoration priorities.  The GAO report clearly regards the Agreement as a focal point for binational restoration efforts, and also notes

    "that a binational review in 1999 'found that certain provisions were out of date and concluded that certain changes should be considered . . .'  Indeed, the current Agreement is now 16 years old and is rapidly becoming a memorial to the past rather than a guidepost for the future.  An updated Agreement is fundamental to the success of any prospective restoration plan.  The Great Lakes Commission has long been on record in support of Agreement review, and reiterates this need as an important complement to the two preceding recommendations."

I appreciate your consideration and urge you, in your Great Lakes leadership role, to embrace and advance these recommendations.  The member states of the Great Lakes Commission stand ready to assist.  Please contact Dr. Michael J. Donahue, President/CEO at 734-971-9135 or mdonahue@glc.org.


Samuel W. Speck

The Great Lakes Commission, chaired by Samuel W. Speck (Ohio), is a nonpartisan, binational compact agency created by state and U.S. federal law and dedicated to promoting a strong economy, healthy environment and high quality of life for the Great LakesSt. Lawrence region and its residents.  The Commission consists of state legislators, agency officials and governors’ appointees from its eight member states.  Associate membership for Ontario and Québec was established through the signing of a “Declaration of Partnership.”  The Commission maintains a formal Observer program involving U.S. and Canadian federal agencies, tribal authorities, binational agencies and other regional interests.  The Commission offices are located in Ann Arbor, Michigan.