GLWP Hill Happenings September 2013


  • Government Shutdown
    • As of Tuesday, October 01, 2013, the federal government shutdown, except for essential services, due to the lack of an appropriations bill
    • Congress’ main disagreement lies over the funding of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare
    • The House has begun to move individual funding bills, having already passed the State and Foreign Operations, which includes funding for the International Joint Commission and the Great Lakes Fishery Commission
    • Relevant impacts of the shutdown:
  • Transportation
    • Maritime Administration
      MARAD employs 830 people, 451 of which have been furloughed and some activities are expected to be suspended.
    • Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation
      None of the 125 individuals employed by the SLSDC will be furloughed and all operations and activities will continue.  Better Roads
  • EPA
    Approximately 94% of EPA’s 16,204 employees are expected to be furloughed starting today. Oversight of some Superfund sites may qualify for an exception to remain staffed, ensuring the site does not pose an imminent threat to public health. About 300 of the 800 superfund sites were determined to qualify for the exception. Huffington Post
    • USFWS
      A total of 1,794 US Fish and Wildlife Service employees will be exempt from the federal shutdown furloughs, serving in law enforcement, animal caretaker, and emergency personnel departments, among others. Fish hatcheries are included under the animal caretaker portfolio. Department of Interior Contingency Plan
    • USGS
      Only 43 of USGS’ 8,623 employees have been designated as exempt and will remain on the job, according to the Department of the Interior’s Contingency Plan for the U.S. Geological Survey. Designated essential activities include the National Earthquake Information Center and the Earth Resources Observation and Science Center. Of those furloughed, 200 employees will be on call and ready to be exempted should a natural disaster occur.
    • Great Lakes Fishery Commission
      All employees working for the Great Lakes Fishery Commission remain on the job. The GLFC also provides funding for the U.S. Geological Survey’s Hammond Bay Biological Station and for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to carry out sea lamprey control. As of Wednesday, October 9, both agencies’ employees were on the job.
  • NOAA
    About 45% of NOAA employees are expected to be furloughed beginning today. Most workers remaining on the job are with the National Weather Service. Fishery Nation
  • Army Corps
    Mississippi River locks and dams, as well as other commercial traffic and flood control aspects, will remain open as they are considered core functions. Recreation areas are expected to close. Projects funded through prior year appropriations, like recovery from Hurricane Sandy impacts, will continue. NBC St. Paul-Minneapolis
    There will be no impact on the operation of the electronic Asian carp barriers outside Chicago
  • Water Resources Reform and Development Act, R. 3080, passed out of committee
    • Included designation of the Great Lakes as a single navigation system for purposes of funding, as included in the Great Lakes Navigation System Sustainability Act, R. 2273
    • NEMWI released a summary comparison of the Senate and House bills
    • Movement on the House floor was originally expected in early to mid-October but the current government shutdown may impact that schedule
  • Farm Bill Updates
    • The current extension of the Farm Bill expired at midnight on October 1, 2013
    • On September 28, the House passed a measure combining the pared down farm bill it passed in July with a missing nutrition title passed on September 19. This action sets the stage for a conference committee to work out the differences between the two versions of the bill.
    • This NEMWI Blog post provides more details and links to the past actions and potential future path to a Farm Bill.


Agriculture letter
Great Lakes and Chesapeake Bay Congressional offices sent a letter to the chair and ranking members of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees, relaying their support for the Senate’s language of the Regional Conservation Partnership Program. The letter notes the language’s ability to streamline programs while avoiding decreased conservation benefits and continuing to target priority areas. Signees included Great Lakes Task Force Co-Chairs Reps. John Dingell (MI-12) and Louise Slaughter (NY-25), as well as Great Lakes Task Force Members Reps. Brian Higgins (NY-26), Dave Joyce (OH-14), Marcy Kaptur (OH-09), and Sandy Levin (MI-09); Great Lakes Delegation member Bill Owens (NY-21) also signed the letter.

NEMWI Note to the Coalitions : Harmful Microbes in Ballast Water: Protecting the Great Lakes Ecosystem
NEMWI released a Note to the Coalitions entitled “Harmful Microbes in Ballast Water: Protecting the Great Lakes Ecosystem”.  The NEMWI, with support from the Great Lakes Protection Fund (GLPF), led a team of experts from Cornell University, Old Dominion University, the University of Minnesota, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and the Great Lakes Commission in a multi-year project to explore the need for-and best tools and methods to accomplish-a cost-effective early-detection monitoring system for ship-mediated harmful microbes in the Great Lakes.


Briefing: WRRDA in the Great Lakes
Friday, September 13, 2013
NEMWI hosted a briefing on the Water Resources Reform and Development Act, recently introduced in the House of Representatives, and potential impacts of such a bill on the Great Lakes region. Attendees heard from Jim Weakley with the Lake Carriers Association; Steve Fisher with the American Great Lakes Ports Association; and Matt Doss with the Great Lakes Commission. Jim Weakley began by providing background on navigation and shipping on the Great Lakes, including the dredging backlog of $200 M, and how low water levels compound this backlog. He also provided information on the economic impacts of shipping in the Great Lakes region, including the $3.6 B saved annually by transporting goods via vessel rather than via rail or by truck. Steve Fisher offered an overview and comparison of the specific Operations and Maintenance (which includes dredging and other harbor maintenance) within the Senate and House bills, highlighting the benefits of designating the Great Lakes as a navigation system to receive federal support, rather than having the ports compete against each other. He also highlighted the challenges within the bills with securing sufficient funding out of the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund, which is funded through fees meant to support harbor maintenance activities. Matt Doss noted the Great Lakes Commission historical and recent support, along with six other Great Lakes groups, for adequate harbor maintenance. He also noted the impacts on invasive species, such as Asian carp, and habitat restoration that a WRDA bill can have for the Great Lakes. All attendees affirmed their support for passage of WRRDA, in order to conference with the Senate. The House Great Lakes Task Force co-chairs, Reps. Candice Miller (MI-10), John Dingell (MI-12), Sean Duffy (WI-07), and Louise Slaughter (NY-25), served as honorary co-sponsors for the briefing. NEMWI provided an overview of the Senate bill after its passage back in May, and recently published a comparison of the Senate and House bills.

The House Great Lakes Task Force Co-chairs, Reps. Candice Miller, John Dingell, Sean Duffy, and Louise Slaughter, served as honorary co-sponsors of the briefing.

Briefing: Asian carp eDNA
Monday, September 16, 2013
NEMWI hosted the briefing, which addressed the use of environmental DNA (eDNA), its history, and future developments, in preventing the spread of Asian carp into the Great Lakes. Attendees heard from Charles Wooley (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service), Kelly Baerwaldt (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers), Bill Bolen (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency), Dr. David Lodge (University of Notre Dame), Kevin Irons (Illinois Dept. of Natural Resources), John Navarro (Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources), and Tammy Newcomb (Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources). Speakers provided a background on the development and use of eDNA, highlighting its recent application in management and ongoing evolution. Dr. David Lodge discussed the University of Notre Dame’s role in originally developing eDNA, and that given the probabilities, a finding of eDNA most likely indicates the presence of a live Asian carp at some point. State agency representatives from Illinois, Ohio, and Michigan all noted the need to maintain the line against Asian carp (and other invasive species) moving closer to the Great Lakes, an area of agreement of the Great Lakes Governors. With limited state budgets, states have to be strategic and smart about their investments, focusing efforts in the areas where they can have the most impact. A more complete summary available, as well as the presentations and materials.

The Great Lakes Task Force Co-chairs, Reps. Candice Miller, John Dingell, Sean Duffy, Louise Slaughter and Sens. Carl Levin and Mark Kirk, served as honorary co-sponsors of the briefing.

Briefing: 2013 Asian Carp Control Framework
Tuesday, September 17, 2013
NEMWI hosted a briefing reviewing the Asian Carp Control Framework for 2013, which was published in July and directs the coordinated efforts of the federal partners working to combat the spread and invasion of Asian carp. Jack Drolet, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, described the actions of the Corps for 2013, including electrical barrier construction and operations and maintenance, fish-tracking (telemetry) studies, continued study on the efficacy of the electrical barrier in deterring fish, and the ECALS study and transition of the Asian carp eDNA work to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Dr. Leon Carl, U.S. Geological Survey, described the applied research of his agency to find cost-efficient methods to combat aquatic invasive species, including a targeted microparticles to interrupt the lifecycle. Charles Wooley, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, described the efforts to monitor in the Chicago Area Waterway System and the expansion into southern Lake Michigan and western Lake Erie as an early detection system. Bill Bolen, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, described the financial support for the Asian carp efforts, much of which began and has been supported through the bi-partisan Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) but is pivoting towards base budgets for ongoing operations, monitoring and assessment, with GLRI supporting longer-term, more sustainable options, including control technologies, GLMRIS alternatives, etc. A more complete summary is available.

The Great Lakes Task Force Co-chairs, Reps. Candice Miller, John Dingell, Sean Duffy, Louise Slaughter and Sens. Carl Levin and Mark Kirk, served as honorary co-sponsors of the briefing.


What fish is this? There’s an app for that

Why Mayors Should Rule the World