We’re not sure if we’ll see $4 a gallon Lake Michigan water, but to those of us who live around the Great Lakes, the fresh water is priceless.
We applaud the new bipartisan legislation introduced recently in the U.S. Senate that authorizes several critical Great Lakes restoration programs, and strengthens regional coordination and bi-national cooperation with Canada.
The Great Lakes Ecological and Economic Protection Act was introduced by Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), co-chairmen of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force. Other senators from Great Lakes states also signed on.
The lakes provide fresh drinking water to millions, along with transportation, a fishing industry and recreation.
The Great Lakes Ecological and Economic Protection Act would:
Formally authorize the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI), a multiagency program that is implementing a comprehensive cleanup strategy built on the priorities of the Great Lakes states, including removing contaminated sediments and restoring degraded coastal areas; halting the introduction and spread of harmful aquatic invasive species such as Asian carp; preventing polluted runoff that causes algal blooms; and restoring valuable fish and wildlife resources.
Reauthorize the Great Lakes Legacy Act, a program begun in 2002 to clean up contaminated sediments in 31 U.S. and binational Areas of Concern across the Great Lakes.
Establish an Interagency Task Force to coordinate federal Great Lakes programs and a Great Lakes Advisory Board to secure input and guidance from regional stakeholders.
Authorize the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Great Lakes National Program Office, which leads the GLRI and the Great Lakes Legacy Act, oversees implementation of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement with Canada, and coordinates other Great Lakes programs and policies.
"This legislation is among the top priorities for the Great Lakes states," said Great Lakes Commission Chairman Kenneth Johnson, water division administrator for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. "These programs are accomplishing so much to clean up the Great Lakes and help our region leverage them as both a natural treasure and a vital economic asset."
Now in its fourth year, the GLRI is an unprecedented effort to restore the Great Lakes and protect them from new threats. The initiative has enjoyed broad, bipartisan support in Congress, which reflects a recognition that the Great Lakes provide a unique competitive advantage to the eight-state region and support a broader strategy to create jobs, stimulate economic development, and invest in freshwater resources and waterfront communities.
The Great Lakes Legacy Act has enabled the states and local communities to clean up more than 2 million cubic yards of toxic sediments from Great Lakes harbors and waterfront areas. This is critical for helping communities promote economic development in formerly industrialized waterfront areas.
We encourage Congress to approve this legislation to keep the Great Lakes great!
Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung, Alex Doty and Fred VandenBrand. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to firstname.lastname@example.org or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.