Summary of Hearings on Great Lakes and Other Watersheds (4-27-06)

  • March 16, 2006: Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works Hearing on "Great Lakes Regional Collaboration's Strategy to Restore and Protect the Great Lakes"


Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works
Hearing on "Great Lakes Regional Collaboration's Strategy to Restore and Protect the Great Lakes"
March 16, 2006

Witnesses:
Senator Mike DeWine (R-OH)
Senator Carl Levin (D-MI)
Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)
Stephen Johnson, Administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Governor Bob Taft (R-OH), Council of Great Lakes Governors
Frank Ettawageshik, Tribal Chairman, Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians
David Ullrich, Director, Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative
George Kuper, President, Council of Great Lakes Industries
Andy Buchsbaum, Director, Great Lakes Natural Resource Center, National Wildlife Federation, Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition
Diane Katz, Director of Science, Environment, and Technology Policy, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy
Bill Howland, Basin Program Manager, Lake Champlain Basin Program

The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works held a hearing on March 16, 2006 to discuss the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy and its recommendations for restoring the Great Lakes. In their opening remarks, Committee Chair James Inhofe (R-OK) and Senator George Voinovich (R-OH) expressed the importance of developing a collaborative strategy for protecting the Great Lakes, citing a 2003 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report that 148 federal and 51 state programs are involved in environmental restoration projects in the region. Voinovich, who chaired the hearing, noted that the two primary issues to address in developing a restoration strategy are improving management and considering "fiscal realities."

Witnesses at the hearing represented an array of federal, state, and tribal leaders, environmental groups, and industries, many of which had been involved in the development of the collaboration strategy report. Several of the witnesses advised lawmakers to implement the recommendations of the report, which proposes spending more than $20 billion on restoration projects over the next five years. The strategy would cut down on the number of programs involved in restoration. "By funding priorities rather than programs, Congress can effectively channel the work of federal, state and local agencies toward key objectives," said Ohio Governor Bob Taft (R), a representative of the Council of Great Lakes Governors.

Senators Mike DeWine (R-OH) and Carl Levin (D-MI) also testified at the hearing. They discussed plans to introduce a bill in April that would implement the majority of the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy recommendations, including addressing problems of invasive species, threats to wildlife habitats, contaminated sediments, and mercury deposits.

To read the opening statements of Senators Inhofe, Voinovich, and Jeffords as well as the witness testimony from the hearing, click here.

-JAF

Sources: Hearing testimony, Environment & Energy Daily.

Contributed by Jenny Fisher, 2006 AGI/AAPG Spring Intern.

Please send any comments or requests for information to AGI Government Affairs Program.

Last updated on April 27, 2006