Great Lakes Leaders Convene for Environmental Summit

Great Lakes congressional leaders and regional stakeholders assembled on February 8 for the annual Great Lakes Environmental Summit on Capitol Hill. The Summit gave lawmakers and Committee staff the chance to advise the 45 stakeholders in attendance on promoting Great Lake’s interests and to answer questions about legislative priorities in the 115th Congress.

Leaders from the House and Senate Great Lakes Task Forces who spoke and took questions at the Summit included Representatives Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Bill Huizenga (R-MI), and David Joyce (R-OH), and Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Rob Portman (R-OH). A representative of the new administration, Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Interior Scott J. Cameron, also made a presentation.

A major theme which emerged from the speakers at the Summit was the need to better market the importance of the Great Lakes, especially on Capitol Hill. Demonstrating the vastness of the Great Lakes, the richness of its resources, and its contribution to the national economy is key to generating bipartisan interest in addressing the region’s challenges.

The Summit highlighted the importance of tackling ecosystem threats such as invasive species and algae blooms with strong federal action—exemplified by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the Water Resources Development Act. The new administration’s commitment to invest significantly in infrastructure around the Great Lakes also gave reason for optimism.

Congressional committee minority and majority staffers from five House and Senate committees also addressed the Summit to highlight upcoming legislative priorities and opportunities in the new Congress.

In thanking the participants, Michael Goff, President and CEO of the Northeast-Midwest Institute, noted: “The Summit is an excellent example of what the Institute does best: providing opportunities for lawmakers of both parties to address regional stakeholders directly.”