The Obama Administration proposal for funding the Great Lakes, known as the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI), has cleared a key House-Senate conference committee. The legislation would provide $475 million for a comprehensive Great Lakes restoration and protection initiative. The funding would be targeted toward the most critical environmental concerns facing the Great Lakes, including invasive species
In March of this year Canada and the United States submitted a bi-national proposal to reduce emissions from ships at ports. The proposal marked the culmination of years of study of the costs and benefits of requiring emission reductions from ocean going vessels. However, the proposal never mentions the Great Lakes and includes no analysis of the costs or…
Today, EPA Administrator-designate Lisa P. Jackson distributed a memo to all employees of EPA. The memo outlines her and President Obama’s philosophy of environmental protection. The memo is an interesting demarcation of the major changes that are coming in the realm of environmental protection.
Some priorities Ms. Jackson is very upfront about, such as…
Senators Stabenow and Feingold are trying to build support for Great Lakes funding in the economic stimulus package being developed. The following letter is being circulated as a way of showing support for inclusion of funding.
The letter highlights the traditional areas identified for Great Lakes Restoration- contaminated sediment, combined sewer overflows and eco restoration.
With Michigan and Pennsylvania’s passage of the Compact, all of the Great Lake States have now endorsed it. The next step is to go to Congress for ratification. While the press has almost exclusively concentrated on the diversion aspects of the Great Lakes Compact, there are other provisions that could have important ramifications for businesses. Ohio has yet to pass enabling legislation that will grant authority to the Ohio Department of Natural Resource to implement other important aspects of the Compact, most notably regulation of water withdraws.
The driving force behind the Compact was to ban diversions to other States and Countries. But the Compact also requires each of the eight states to establish a regulatory program for new or increased withdraws from the Great Lakes basin. Ohio’s enabling legislation will decide critical issues such as- how much water must be withdrawn before a permit will be required? The Compact sets a default number of 100,000 gallons per day (gpd). Other states have established higher thresholds, such as 1,000,000 gpd.
Another critical question – what type of review is required if a business triggers the need for a withdraw permit? The Compact contains very broad language that requires a review of impacts to the Great Lake basin from which the withdraw takes place. However, the Compact grants the states a tremendous amount of discretion to establish the level of review associated with new withdraws. For example, Ohio could prohibit issuance of a withdraw permit if the proposed project would result in decreased flow in a tributary of Lake Erie. Ohio could also require a detailed review of the impacts to the ecosystem if a withdraw is allowed.
While focus has rightfully been on protecting this tremendous freshwater resource from being diverted elsewhere, there are important policy questions that still remain unanswered. How Ohio and the other Great Lake States regulate withdraws within their states will arguably have a more direct and immediate impact on its constituents. Continue Reading Important Issues Unaddressed After Passage of Great Lakes Compact