Cimate change, renewable energy top annual meeting agenda
Climate change and renewable energy will be key items on the agenda of the upcoming 2007 Annual Meeting of the Great Lakes Commission, Oct. 1-2 in Chicago.
Dr. Rosina Bierbaum, vice chair of the United Nations Scientific Expert Group on Climate Change and dean of the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and the Environment, will discuss the environmental challenges and economic opportunities presented by climate change in the Great Lakes region. Other experts will take part in a panel discussion on the likely impacts of climate change on the Great Lakes, and the potential effects of water level fluctuations on commercial shipping and recreational boating.
The meeting will also take a look at the untapped wind energy potential of the Great Lakes region in light of the rapid growth of wind energy around the Great Lakes and the rest of North America in recent years. John Austin, co-author of the recent Brookings Institution report on the economic benefits of Great Lakes restoration, will discuss how funding the recommendations of the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration would yield concrete benefits for the regional economy. In addition, Illinois Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn, vice chair of the Great Lakes Commission, will head a discussion on water conservation and efficiency.
The meeting will also feature updates on Great Lakes-related legislation making its way through Congress, the implementation of the Great Lakes Water Resources Compact and other high-priority Great Lakes issues. The Great Lakes Regional Collaboration will convene a public meeting at the same location on the afternoon of Oct. 2.
For more information, see www.glc.org/meeting. Contact: Tim Eder, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Workshop to focus on aging Great Lakes coastal infrastructure
The Great Lakes Commission and the NOAA Coastal Services Center will host a scoping workshop on the current condition and future viability of coastal protection infrastructure in the Great Lakes, Oct. 10-11 in Duluth, Minn. The workshop will focus on coastal structures such as piers and breakwaters, many of which are aging and showing signs of deterioration. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network will be participants or co-hosts?.
Over half of the coastal structures on the Great Lakes were built before World War I and more than 80 percent are older than their typical 50-year design life span. The oldest structures were built with timber crib core sections, which deteriorate more rapidly when exposed to air during periods of low lake levels. One objective of the workshop will be to identify potential impacts of climate change, for which most models project long-term low water levels for the Great Lakes. The workshop will also explore new strategies for maintaining infrastructure that is no longer considered a federal budgetary priority. Contact: Dave Knight, email@example.com.
New York land-use roundtable focuses on Great Lakes region
The last in a series of state land-use roundtables conducted by the Great Lakes Commission was held Sept. 18 in Albany, N.Y. Titled "Linking Community Revitalization and Environmental Restoration in Great Lakes Region," it concluded a series of six state roundtables, begun in 2003, with the goal of advancing knowledge of urban revitalization and conservation and ways to link the two.
The series had its origins in a 2001 Great Lakes Commission study, Linking Brownfields Redevelopment and Greenfields Protection for Sustainable Development in the Great Lakes Basin, also known as the Bridges Report, that examined trends in urban revitalization and open-space protection policy among Great Lakes states and provinces. It identified policies that were particularly promising or that could be applied more broadly to other jurisdictions, and new strategies to address those issues.
In addition to New York, roundtables were held in Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Indiana. Outcomes from previous roundtables and other information on the series is available at www.glc.org/landuse. Contact: Victoria Pebbles, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Third RDX conference to boost data exchange, management
The Great Lakes Commission will host the third Great Lakes Regional Data Exchange (RDX) Conference Oct. 29 in Ottawa, Ontario. The rapidly growing ability to collect information about the lakes and the region's environment and infrastructure presents new opportunities for science and management, but also creates challenges in ensuring that data can be shared and compared at a regional level. This conference provides a venue for colleagues to share information about their Great Lakes data collection and management programs, and consider ways to improve collaboration among organizations. Topics will include binational information transfer, observing systems, ecological monitoring and reporting, data clearinghouses, online geospatial communities, land use transformations, and more. This year's RDX events are being held in conjunction with a weeklong conference of the American Society of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing and the Canadian Remote Sensing Society. For more information or to register, visit http://rdx.glc.org/07 or contact: Jon Dettling, email@example.com.
Advocacy & Legislation -
The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation is expected to bring the Ballast Water Management Act of 2007 (S. 1578) up for consideration by the committee this week. The bill will require ships declaring no ballast on board to immediately begin flushing tanks with salt water. The bill provides that by 2012, all ships will be required to install technology to treat ballast water before it is discharged. However, the Great Lakes Commission, the Council of Great Lakes Governors and others have expressed concern over the draft bill because it will preempt the states from requiring treatment, should the federal program fail to effectively halt introductions of invasive species, and because the bill will exclude the use of the Clean Water Act as a tool to protect state waters. The Great Lakes Commission and its partners remain hopeful that these concerns will be addressed by the committee. For information, contact Tim Eder, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Commission Senior Project Manager Katherine Glassner-Shwayder will testify on Thursday, Sept 27 before a House subcommittee on invasive species from vectors other than ballast water. Glassner-Shwayder will present recommendations that Congress enact comprehensive legislation to control invasive species from all pathways, and will testify on the efforts of the Great Lakes Panel on Aquatic Nuisance Species. For information, contact Katherine Glassner-Shwayder at email@example.com.
Enactment of the long-awaited Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) appears likely, despite a veto threat from President Bush. The U.S. Senate voted 81-12 to approve the WRDA conference report on Monday; it passed the House in August by a margin of 381-40. Both are well in excess of the two-thirds majority required to overturn a presidential veto, unless a significant number of senators or representatives change their votes in deference to the president.
The $23.2 billion WRDA bill (H.R. 1495) would authorize the Army Corps of Engineers to carry out hundreds of flood control, ecosystem restoration and navigation projects. Of particular interest to the Great Lakes region are provisions to complete and operate the invasive species dispersal barrier in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, and to construct a second Soo Lock capable of handling the 1,000-foot freighters that carry the majority of bulk cargoes on the Great Lakes, a new St. Clair River and Lake St. Clair clean-up program and reauthorization or amendments to several programs to provide additional resources for clean-up, restoration and better management of Great Lakes water resources. For additional information, contact: Tim Eder, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Featured project: Quebec Internships
Through an ongoing arrangement with the Québec government, several interns are being placed with the Great Lakes Commission for six-month assignments focusing on water quality management and binational Great Lakes environmental policy. The internships are supported by Québec's Internship Program with International Government Organizations.
The current interns, Eve-Marie Morissette and Talusier LaSalle, began their work at the Commission this month. Morissette, whose education and professional focus has been on aquatic and terrestrial ecology, is a graduate of Rimouski University in Québec City and has a master's degree in biology from nearby Laval University. She will be working on invasive species issues during her internship, focusing on nonballast vectors.
LaSalle holds a bachelor's degree in political science from Laval University and a master's degree in political science from the University of British Columbia, with an emphasis on global environmental politics. During his internship, he will be assisting with a Commission project to document municipal investments in Great Lakes protection and restoration, in partnership with the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative. LaSalle will also contribute to Great Lakes Day planning and related congressional advocacy efforts. Contact: Tim Eder, email@example.com
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