Congress acts on several Great Lakes legislative fronts before July 4 recess
Stop Invasive Species Act
As Congress recessed for the July Fourth holiday, action was taken affecting several Great Lakes legislative priorities, including measures to stop Asian carp; secure more harbor dredging funds; support soil erosion and agricultural water pollution prevention programs; and set FY2013 appropriations for urban clean water and the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI).
The Stop Invasive Species Act, sponsored by Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Congressman Dave Camp (R-MI), was added to the Transportation Reauthorization bill just prior to its approval by Congress. The Act directs the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to complete its work on the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study within 18 months. Currently projected for completion in 2015, the study will identify options for keeping Asian carp and other aquatic invasive species from passing between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River watersheds. The Commission has called for accelerated completion of the study and has urged the Corps to use outcomes from its report, developed in partnership with the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, on options for permanently separating the Great Lakes and Mississippi River in the Chicago area (Restoring the Natural Divide).
Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund
Longstanding efforts – including those by the Great Lakes Commission - to direct utilization of the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) for its intended purpose of adequately supporting federal navigation dredging projects advanced farther than they ever have in the congressional session recently recessed. “Sense of Congress” language in the transportation authorization conference report stipulated that “the Administration should request full use of the HMTF for operating and maintaining the navigation channels of the United States…” It also called for more explicit reporting of the operational status, relative to authorized depth and width, of federal channels, and for estimates of the annual HMTF appropriations it would take to restore the channels to 95 percent of authorized dimensions in a three-year period. Though the conference report stopped short of including more rigorous enforcement provisions advocated by the Restore America’s Maritime Promise (RAMP) coalition and the GLC, RAMP Chairman Barry Holliday expressed thanks for the leadership of congressional supporters Rep. Charles Boustany (D-LA) and Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) and pledged that the Coalition “will continue to pursue stronger authorizing legislation."
The U.S. Senate passed a 2012 Farm Bill package last week with a new program that could provide important benefits for Great Lakes conservation efforts. The $498 billion, five-year Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012 (Farm Bill) passed the Senate by a 65-34 vote with bipartisan support and largely preserved but consolidated major conservation programs, including those impacting the Great Lakes region. A new Regional Conservation Partnership Program combines the authorities of the Great Lakes Basin Program for Soil Erosion and Sediment Control with the agricultural water enhancement program, Chesapeake Bay watershed program, and cooperative conservation partnership initiative. The House Agriculture Committee is expected to begin consideration of Farm Bill legislation following the July 4th recess.
Great Lakes Restoration Initiative
In action on FY 2013 funding for U.S. EPA, the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee shaved $50 million from the GLRI, for which the President’s budget had sought $300 million. Congress provided $300 million for the GLRI for the current year. The committee also cut funding for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund by more than 50 percent, providing $689 million, down from the current year’s level of $1.469 billion. The Commission has urged the House Appropriations Committee and members of the Great Lakes Congressional Delegation to maintain level funding for these top legislative priorities for the Great Lakes states.
Contact: Matt Doss, 734-971-9135, email@example.com.
Online registration now open for Sept. 10-11 GLC Annual Meeting in Cleveland
Other organizations partnering with the GLC and IJC in Great Lakes Week events include the Healing Our Waters- Great Lakes Coalition, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the EPA’s annual Areas of Concern Conference and the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative. Further information on Great Lakes Week events can be found at www.glweek.org.
Contact: Christine Manninen, 734-971-9135, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Registrations are now being accepted online for the Great Lakes Commission 2012 Annual Meeting to be held Sept. 10-11 at the Renaissance Cleveland Hotel. This year’s meeting will again kick off the Great Lakes Week series of meetings and will also feature an unprecedented joint session with the International Joint Commission (IJC). The joint session, to be held the afternoon of Monday, Sept. 10, will include a focused discussion on nutrient loading in the western Lake Erie basin. Other GLC agenda topics include updates on efforts to prevent Asian carp movement into the Great Lakes, activities to promote development of wind energy and potential new economic development initiatives. Further meeting information and registration details can be accessed at www.glc.org/meeting.
New smartphone app offers complete Great Lakes beach conditions in real time
The app was designed for the Android platform by LimnoTech, a water resources and engineering company based in Ann Arbor, Mich., in partnership with the GLC and the states. Data providers include the states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio and Wisconsin; Pennsylvania’s Erie County Department of Health; BeachGuard (Windsor Solutions); NOAA; and GLOS. To download myBeachCast, go to beachcast.glin.net or scan your smartphone over the code shown here with a QR code reader.
Contact: Christine Manninen, 734-971-9135, email@example.com.
Real-time information on Great Lakes beach water quality advisories, weather and water conditions is now available via mobile phone. The Great Lakes Commission (GLC), in partnership with LimnoTech and the Great Lakes states, recently activated a free smartphone application that provides instant access to swim advisories and other environmental conditions for close to 1,900 beaches in the Great Lakes region. Funded by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the myBeachCast application (app) retrieves locational and advisory data for Great Lakes and inland lake beaches in the eight Great Lakes states. The app also features real-time and forecasted weather and lake conditions (e.g., water temperature, wave heights, wind speed/direction) and nearshore marine forecasts, drawn from the Great Lakes Observing System (GLOS) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). myBeachCast allows users to discover local beaches based on the user’s location, view beaches and their status on a map, save favorite beaches, and get driving directions.
New faces at the Great Lakes Commission
Recently joining the Great Lakes Commission are two interns participating in the University of Michigan (UM) School of Public Health Future Public Health Leaders Program (FPHLP) and the 2012 GLC Sea Grant Fellow. The interns are two international students: Angelia Caro is from Magaguez, Puerto Rico, and is a senior at Interamerican University of Puerto Rico studying microbiology, and Oluwakemi “Lori” Akin-Olugbade is from Lagos, Nigeria, and is studying psychology and French culture at Wellesley College. The FPHLP internship provides students with the opportunity to work in a “real world” public health organization. Amanda Sweetman, the 2012 recipient of the annual GLC Sea Grant Fellowship, holds a bachelor’s degree from UM, and a master’s from Utah State. During her fellowship she is working with the U.S. Geological Survey Great Lakes Science Center on a project related to invasive Phragmites management and associated habitat restoration, and assisting on various other GLC-led projects.
UM Future Public Health Leaders Program interns at the GLC
are Oluwakemi “Lori” Akin-Olugbade, left, and Angelia Caro, right;
Amanda Sweetman, center, is the 2012 GLC Sea Grant Fellow.
Atmospheric Toxics Webinar Series #2 through #5
July 10, July 24, August 8, and August 21, 2012
Webinars - Online
Contact: Becky Pearson, firstname.lastname@example.org
2012 Great Lakes Commission Annual Meeting (part of Great Lakes Week)
Sept. 10-11, 2012
Contact: Tim Eder, email@example.com
Great Lakes Wind Collaborative 5th Annual Meeting
Sept. 25-26, 2012
Contact: John Hummer, firstname.lastname@example.org
12th Annual Great Lakes Beach Association Conference
Oct. 16-18, 2012
Mackinac Island, Michigan
Contact: Christine Manninen, email@example.com
Great Lakes Commission
2805 S. Industrial Hwy, Suite 100 Ann Arbor, MI 48104-6791 734-971-9135 www.glc.org
A News Briefs archive can be found at www.glc.org/email/archive