GLWP Hill Happenings March 2013


  • Water Resources Development Act of 2013, 601, Passes Senate Committee
    • The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee unanimously passed its WRDA bill, which includes a modified project authorization procedure, streamlined environmental review process, modifications to the appropriation of Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund allocations, as well as a pilot financing program to provide additional resources for infrastructure projects.
    • A summary of the bill, in reference to the Northeast-Midwest Region is available.
  • National Endowment for the Oceans, 646
    • Senator Whitehouse (RI), along w/ Sens. Maria Cantwell (WA), Richard Blumenthal (CT), and Bill Nelson (FL), reintroduced an act creating the National Endowment for the Oceans, which would provide grant funding to “restore, protect, maintain, or understand living marine resources and their habitats and ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes resources”. The bill would provide grants, with a 30% non-federal share requirement, through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
    • The bill would provide funding for the Endowment from leases granted from natural resource exploration and drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf as well as civil penalties paid for violations on the Outer Continental Shelf. Collectively, the Great Lakes states would be projected to receive around 25% of the state grant amounts.
  • FY2013 Continuing Resolution, R. 933, passed yet no resolution on funding levels
    • Congress passed and the President signed the final Continuing Resolution for FY2013, which included the sequester cuts as well as additional cuts and movement of funds. Full appropriation bills were included for Department of Defense, Veterans Affairs, Commerce, Justice, Science, Homeland Security, and Agriculture.
    • The final budget numbers for FY2013 are still unclear, as the administration has some leeway as to what cuts are made in certain programs as well as the order of the multiple across-the-board cuts included for some agencies.
    • The President’s FY2014 Budget request is expected on April 10, 2013, which will hopefully include the final FY2013 funding levels.
  • Asian Carp Prevention Act, R. 985
    • Introduced by Rep. Mike Rogers (MI-08)
    • Provides for coordination of Asian carp prevention efforts to be led by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and authorizes projects to prevent the spread of Asian carp into the Great Lakes
    • Similar text was included in Sen. Kirstin Gillibrand’s amendment to the Water Resources Development Act, 601
  • Great Lakes Ecosystem Protection Act introduction expected in the Spring
    • Senate Great Lakes Task Force Co-Chairs Sens. Carl Levin (MI) and Mark Kirk (IL) are finalizing the draft for the GLEPA bill for introduction in the 113th Congress
    • Although details are not yet finalized, the bill would authorize the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding, providing legislative authority for the spending
  • Great Lakes Protection Act, R. 1185 and S. 571
    • Introduced by Reps. Hultgren (IL-14) and Lipinski (IL-03), and Sens. Mark Kirk (IL) and Richard Durbin (IL)
    • Prohibits a publicly-owned water treatment facility from dumping of sewage into the Great Lakes except in limited circumstances such as to prevent loss of life, personal injury, or severe property damage, or when effluent limitations won’t be exceeded
    • Requires specific public notification protocols for when bypasses occur
    • Establishes the Great Lakes Cleanup Fund, funded by penalties to the Clean Water Act which are increased to up to $100,000 a day per violation, to improve wastewater discharges to the Great Lakes


FY2014 Appropriations
Appropriations letters are currently circulating for supporting funding and programs in FY2014. The following are currently out for signatures in the House:

  • Community Development Block Grants: $3.3 Billion
  • Manufacturing Extension Partnership: Level Funding
  • Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP): $5.1 Billion
  • Trade Adjustment Assistance: $15.8 Million
  • Great Lakes Restoration Initiative: $300 Million
  • Land and Water Conservation Fund: “Robust funding”
  • Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund: “sufficient funding”
  • State Energy Program and Weatherization Assistance Program: $50 million and $210 million

Northeast-Midwest Congressional Coalition Co-Chair Rep. Jim McGovern (MA-02) and Rep. Peter King (NY-02) will soon circulate a letter supporting funding for the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund programs.

EPA requires S.S. Badger to eliminate discharge of coal ash into Lake Michigan by 2014
The EPA announced a proposed consent decree that will require the Lake Michigan Carferry Service, Inc., the owners of the SS Badger, to lower the amount of coal ash released in 2013 and 2014, pay a $25,000 civil penalty for violation of mercury standards in 2012, and completely eliminate the discharge of coal ash by the end of 2014. The EPA, with the announcement of this settlement, does not plan to make a decision on the company’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit application to continue discharging coal ash. The previous permit, issued in 2008, had expired at the end of 2012.

U.S. Army Corps’ Darcy commits $19 million in Sandy recovery funding to Great Lakes
At a Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee hearing on March 20, 2013, Assistant Secretary of the Army for public works, the Honorable Jo-Ellen Darcy, committed to Senate Great Lakes Task Force Co-Chair Sen. Carl Levin (MI) that $19 million in recovery funding will be heading to the Great Lakes to address Superstorm’s Sandy impacts. In a letter to Darcy on February 14, Levin, along w/Sens. Debbie Stabenow (MI), Sherrod Brown (OH), Rob Portman (OH), Al Franken (MN), and Richard Durbin (IL), noted the impacts of the storm on Great Lakes navigation projects and urged funding to go towards these projects.


Great Lakes Day and Congressional Breakfast, March 6-7, 2013
The annual Great Lakes Congressional Breakfast, held in the Capitol Visitor Center, had wide participation from the region as well as Members despite the weather challenges during the week. Over 100 regional leaders and stakeholders heard from eight Great Lakes Congressional members. Kenneth Johnson, chair of the Great Lakes Commission, and Allegra Cangelosi, President of the Northeast-Midwest Institute, opened the breakfast, reflecting on the history of bipartisanship and the cooperative partnerships that have built the Great Lakes delegation and region. Senator Carl Levin (MI) kicked off congressional remarks, detailing the progress that has been made in the Great Lakes, especially under such programs as the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. Sen. Levin was followed by seven Congressmen, including Reps. Dan Benishek (MI-01), Dan Kildee (MI-05), Rick Nolan (MN-08), Kerry Bentivolio (MI-11), Bill Huizenga (MI-02), Brad Schneider (IL-10), and Glenn Thompson (PA-05). Each stated support for continued improvement in the Great Lakes region, through economic and environmental restoration.

The annual breakfast is co-sponsored by the Great Lakes Commission and the Northeast-Midwest Institute and offers the opportunity for Congressional members, their staff and Great Lakes decision-makers and stakeholders to interact and discuss policy issues of importance to the region. It also provides an opportunity for Members, staff, and stakeholders to form partnerships and unite behind common issues within the region and which require regional solutions.

Asian Carp Awareness Symposium, March 6, 2013
The Asian Carp Awareness Symposium took place last week and featured speakers from the five river basin systems impacted or potentially impacted by Asian carp invasions: Lower Mississippi River; Upper Mississippi River; Missouri River; Ohio and Tennessee River; and the Great Lakes. Speakers discussed the impacts of Asian carp, the potential impacts to the ecosystem and economies, as well as the need to continue and boost efforts to prevent the spread and eviscerate Asian carp from U.S. waters. One of these methods, used in Kentucky this upcoming spring, will be a commercial fishing tournament called “Carp Madness.” The symposium was organized by the Mississippi Interstate Cooperative Resource Association and co-chairs of the NEMW Congressional and Senate Coalitions, the Mississippi River Caucus, the House Great Lakes Task Force, and the Upper Mississippi River Task Force. Northeast-Midwest Coalition Co-Chair Rep. Mike Kelly (PA-03) and Delegation Member Rep. Betty McCollum (MN-04) gave remarks.

Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative: Mayors’ Capitol Hill Meeting and Photo Exhibit, March 19-21, 2013
NEMWI’s Mississippi River Cities & Towns Initiative (MRCTI) last week hosted a dozen mayors from nine of the Mississippi River states in Washington, DC. Their visit culminated in a press conference on March 21, at which the mayors and members of Congress announced two major efforts to bolster the health of the waterway. Senator Roy Blunt (R, MO), Senator Tom Harkin (D, IA), Congressmen Rick Crawford (R, AR), Congressman Tim Walz (D, MN), Congressman Kind (D, WI), and Congressman Stephen Fincher (R, TN) joined with MRCTI Mayors to announce the formation of the Mississippi River Caucus, a bi-partisan, bi-cameral Congressional group that will collaborate in addressing issues impacting the River. In addition, the visiting MRCTI Mayors unveiled a Mississippi River Platform as part of the group’s work to bring national attention back to the River and spearhead a new level of regional cooperation to make it more sustainable. Participating MRCTI Mayors included: Mayor Slay, St. Louis, MO – Co-Chair; Mayor Kleis, St. Cloud, MN – Co-Chair; Mayor Huber, Prescott, WI; Mayor Buol, Dubuque, IA; Mayor Smiley, Clarksville, MO; Mayor Thompson, Grafton, IL; Mayor Hoechst, Alton, IL; Mayor Wharton, Memphis, TN; Mayor Kennemore, Osceola, AR; Mayor Winfield, Vicksburg, MS; Mayor Brown, Natchez, MS; and Mayor Copeland, Vidalia, LA.

A photographic exhibit–organized by MRCTI in partnership with member-city arts councils–that showcased the beauty and importance of the River served as a backdrop for the briefing. Sponsored by Ingram Barge Company, the exhibit was laid out on top of a giant floor map of the River and featured the work of photographers from cities spanning the entire length of the waterway.


FY2014 President’s Budget Release (expected), Wednesday, April 10, 2013
As in years past, the Northeast-Midwest Institute will release a Budget Day summary of programs and information available concerning programs important to the region.

National Fuel Funds Network’s annual Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) Action Day, Wednesday April 10, 2013
Evening reception sponsored by the Edison Electric Institute, the trade association of U.S. Shareholder-Owned Electric Companies, to meet with stakeholders, state agencies, constituents, and nonprofit advocates on LIHEAP
S. Capitol Visitor Center’s Congressional Meeting Room South, 5:30-7pm
The reception is held in coordination with the NEMW Senate and Congressional Coalitions.

Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms Briefing, Tuesday, April 9, 2013; 11 a – 12 p
U.S. Capitol Visitor Center’s Congressional Meeting Room South
Sponsored by the American Business Council, Inc., in coordination with the Northeast-Midwest Coalition’s Manufacturing Task Force


Butler County, Ohio Prosecutor files and then drops fraud charges against Punxsutawney Phil for poor winter prediction