State Rep. Michael Sheehy (D-Oregon)recently joined other regional leaders in Great Lakes policy to explore how states and provinces can protect and restore the largest system of fresh surface water in the world. At this year’s Great Lakes Legislative Caucus annual meeting, held Sept. 25-26 in Buffalo, participating legislators passed five policy resolutions and took part in sessions on how to stop the spread of Asian carp, mitigate the potential hazards of crude oil transport, and prevent toxic algal blooms by controlling nutrient runoff into the lakes and their tributaries.
“I’m encouraged by solidarity shown in the Great Lakes region for protecting one of the world’s most important assets. This conference gives us a platform to find the best ways to preserve our water; now we are all tasked with implementing these ideas in our own legislative bodies,” said Sheehy.
Members and other conference attendees had an opportunity to see firsthand how the federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is helping government, nonprofit and private organizations partner on projects that are restoring and revitalizing the city of Buffalo’s waterfront.
The Caucus is a nonpartisan group of legislators from eight Great Lakes states (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin) and two Canadian provinces (Ontario and Québec).
Close to 40 state and provincial legislators took part in this year’s meeting, at which they approved resolutions:
- supporting an agreement signed by the Michigan and Ohio governors and Ontario premier to reduce phosphorus loadings into the western basin of Lake Erie by 40 percent;
- opposing any permanent underground repository for nuclear waste in the Great Lakes basin (Ontario Power Generation has proposed disposing of low- and intermediate-level waste at a site near Lake Huron);
- calling for the Great Lakes governors to reject a plan by the city of Waukesha in Wisconsin to divert Lake Michigan water for use as drinking water;
- supporting new federal legislation, the Waterfront Community Revitalization and Resiliency Act; and
- seeking more federal support to maintain 112 small harbors in the Great Lakes.
The resolutions can be viewed in full at www.greatlakeslegislators.org.