GLWP Hill Happenings February 2013


Great Lakes Restoration Initiative: What is it, where has it been, where is it going, and what are its impacts
Presenters included:

  • Cameron Davis, Senior Advisor to the Administrator, EPA
  • Chad Lord, Policy Director, Healing our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition
  • Doug Focht, Focht Construction, Port Clinton, Ohio

The briefing, held February 12, 2013, provided background on the origins of the GLRI, funding levels, priorities, and community outreach. Cameron Davis described how the GLRI bridges boundaries, including political jurisdictions and parties, in order to support the economy and environment of the Great Lakes. In addition, Chad Lord of the Healing our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition reported the benefits that his group and others have seen on the recovery of the waters, beaches, wildlife, and tourism in the Great Lakes as a result of the GLRI. The final speaker, Doug Focht of Focht Construction in Port Clinton, Ohio, discussed the economic and environmental benefits he has seen as a contractor on multiple GLRI projects. The Co-Chairs of the Great Lakes Task Force, Senators Levin and Kirk, and Representatives Miller, Duffy, Dingell, and Slaughter, served as honorary cosponsors. View presentation slides here.


  • Superstorm Sandy Supplemental Appropriations Passed
    • House and Senate passed, and the President signed, supplemental disaster appropriations to address the impacts of Superstorm Sandy in January. The total amount, around $60 billion, is approximately equal to the amount included in the supplemental bill passed by the Senate at the end of the 112th Congress, although the language and geographic location of projects allowed is more restrictive to the east coast.
    • The Northeast-Midwest Institute prepared two documents for use by Congressional staff: a Note to the Coalitions comparing the base bill and the main amendment considered by the House; and a table comparing the House-passed bill of the 113thwith the Senate-passed bill of the 112th.
  • Strategic Response to Asian Carp Investment Act
    • Companion bills were introduced in the Senate by Sens. Sherrod Brown (OH) and Sen. Toomey (PA) and in the House by Reps. Mike Kelly (PA-03) and Betty McCollum (MN-04). Sen. Brown and Rep. Kelly are co-chairs of their chambers’ Northeast-Midwest Coalition.
    • The bills would require federal agencies to coordinate efforts to reduce the spread of Asian carp through the Upper Mississippi River and Ohio River basins. No additional funding is authorized under the bills.
  • RAMP Act and Harbor Maintenance Act reintroduced
    • Charles Boustany (LA-03) and Sen. Carl Levin (MI) reintroduced their legislation to require full use of the total Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund fees to fund harbor operation and maintenance.


Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund
Northeast-Midwest Congressional Coalition and Great Lakes Task Force Member Rep. Dan Benishek (MI-01) led a House of Representatives letter to the President requesting “sufficient funds for operations and maintenance” in the FY2014 budget request. Specifically, he contended these funds should be equivalent to anticipated revenues to be deposited into the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) for the coming year. Congress established the HMTF in 1986 to recover the operation and maintenance costs, mainly dredging, of coastal and Great Lakes harbors from maritime shippers. The letter highlighted the importance of federal ports and harbors, and their continued maintenance, for the U.S. economy. The letter included 20 members, ranging geographically from Alaska to Florida.

The letter echoes another letter sent to the Office of Management and Budget in August 2012 from 25 Senators and led by Great Lakes Task Force Co-Chair Senator Levin, which similarly requested the inclusion of “sufficient funds for operations and maintenance of federal harbors and ports equivalent to the estimated revenues collected into the fund for FY2014? in the FY2014 budget request.

The Northeast-Midwest Institute prepared a summary of 112th Congress legislation in anticipation of further activity in the current Congress. Champions of the issue in the 112th Congress have already reintroduced some legislation in the 113th Congress, including the RAMP Act by Rep. Charles Boustany (LA-03) and the Harbor Maintenance Act by Sen. Carl Levin (MI).


Northeast-Midwest Institute Board Meeting and Reception, February 5, 2013
The Northeast-Midwest Institute Board met on February 5, 2013, electing former Rep. Steve LaTourette as its new chair. As part of the day’s events, the Board also met with State representatives and Northeast-Midwest Coalition and Task Force leadership to discuss upcoming priorities, and finished the day with a reception in the Congressional Visitor’s Center.

Great Lakes Environmental Summit, February 6, 2013
The annual summit provides an opportunity for Great Lakes leaders and stakeholders to hear from Congressional Members and Committee staff on what they see as legislative opportunities and priorities for the coming session. With over 50 stakeholders, leaders, and staff present, the Summit was well-attended. House and Senate Agriculture and Appropriations Committee staff, as well as staff from the House Energy & Commerce and Transportation & Infrastructure Committees, shared insights with and fielded questions from Summit attendees. Attendees also had the opportunity to hear from Cameron Davis, Senior Advisor to the EPA Administrator, on the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, as well as Allegra Cangelosi, President of NEMWI, and Sabrina Dadrian of the Canadian Embassy, on current initiatives. A Summit roundtable discussion afforded attendees the opportunity to hear from each other on issues of common concern as well as emerging issues.

Administration Delists Presque Isle Area of Concern, February 14, 2013
The Department of State delisted the Presque Isle Area of Concern (AOC), located in northwestern Pennsylvania, at the recommendation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Areas of Concern are designated locations that have experienced environmental degradation. The Department of State has jurisdiction over the AOC listings under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, recently amended in September 2012. The Presque Isle delisting is only the second in the United States; the State Department also delisted the lower Oswego River in New York. Northeast-Midwest Congressional Coalition Co-Chair Rep. Mike Kelly (PA-03), in whose district the Presque Isle is located, credits “the many conservation, environmental, and sportsman groups in Erie County who have made the health of Presque Isle Bay a community priority” for the delisting. Presque Isle Bay will continue to receive support from the EPA to monitor ecological conditions.


Asian Carp Awareness Symposium
Wednesday, March 6, 2013 | 330 – 500 p | CVC-217, Capitol Visitor’s Center | Washington, D.C.

Great Lakes Congressional Breakfast
Thursday, March 7, 2013 | 815 – 945 a | SVC-210, Capitol Visitor’s Center | Washington, D.C.


NPR Feature: Great Lakes Surfing, Superior Style… in February

Lake Michigan Ice Boulders roll up on to the shore