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Information Members

New Logo Highlights Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River

If you’re visiting the GLLC website for the first time this year, you may notice that the GLLC is sporting a new look: a logo that incorporates the organization’s acronym and, more importantly, an image of the waterbodies that are the focus of the Caucus’s work.

Approved by the Executive Committee in late January, the logo finally makes its debut here and on the GLLC’s Twitter account. We hope you enjoy the new look!

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News Release

Remarks from GLLC Director at Great Lakes Commission Virtual Meeting (11/19/20)

Thank you, Chair Jackson. It’s my pleasure to give this first report from the GLLC as an official observer of the Great Lakes Commission. Thank you very much for approving Sen. Charbonneau’s request. I’d like to relay his reaction:

I am extremely pleased that the GLC has granted the GLLC “observer” status. I am a firm believer in partnerships and working together on significant issues that affect the 40 million US and Canadian citizens who rely on the Great Lakes in so many ways. I look forward to a great future as a result of this move.

Sen. Ed Charbonneau (Indiana), GLLC Chair

This “great future” that Sen. Charbonneau mentions will build on the strong working relationship between the Caucus and the GLC that has developed over the past two years under his leadership. Our two organizations partnered on the Caucus’s inaugural Birkholz Institute in 2019, which focused on nutrient pollution. Nicole Zacharda has been an amazing resource to the institute and to the GLLC’s Task Force on Nutrient Management, which organized following the institute. We’re looking forward to continuing to partner on this activity, and I’m hoping that our interaction will help identify some potentially interested parties for the Conservation Kick initiative.

The Caucus also appreciates the opportunity to serve on the Commission’s Standing Committee on Climate Resilience. I’d like to commend Eric Brown for doing such a great job leading a fairly large and very diverse group to produce what will be an important plan for the commission and also — because the commission is a convener, a collaboration leader — I believe it will be an important plan to guide the actions of other groups like the Caucus. Yesterday, Rep. Robyn Gabel (Illinois), GLLC Vice Chair and Chair-Elect, mentioned that the Caucus had decided to focus the 2021 Birkholz Institute on helping coastal communities to become climate resilient. I hope as we collaborate on the Birkholz Institute, the Caucus will be able to use the plan to zero in on some specific policy issues that require legislative action to advance. This is a great example of how our two organizations can be resources to one another.

Dr. Ralph Grundel made an excellent point earlier today about the U.S. Geological Survey translating data into “actionable intelligence.” Educating legislators about the Great Lakes is major part of the GLLC’s mission. And that’s because, to take coordinated regional action to benefit the Great Lakes, state and provincial legislators must first understand the enormous value the lakes bring to the region’s ecology and economy, as well as the threats that could potentially harm the lakes.  We’re partnering with the American Association for the Advancement of Science — specifically, the Center for Evidence in Public Issues, or EPI Center — to put together a virtual workshop for legislators on PFAS contamination of groundwater.

It’s difficult to find subject-matter experts who are able to distill their knowledge — their “terabytes of data” — into nuggets of actionable intelligence that is salient to lawmakers. We’re hoping our collaboration with the AAAS will be just the first of many opportunities to help bridge the gap between science and policy. The Caucus would welcome the opportunity to partner with other agencies and organizations that have this same “grand challenge” that Dr. Grundel described.

I want to give a shoutout to Blue Accounting. Caucus members have high hopes for the platform. We’ve talked about using it to track the GLLC’s progress in implementing policy recommendations — e.g., on nutrient management and lead in drinking water. Also, as Nicole Zacharda and others have heard me say, whenever legislators develop legislation on any topic, a first step is always to look at what other states and provinces are doing. So it would be very helpful for Blue Accounting to present information on the actions the individual states and provinces are taking and the funding they are investing in solving specific problems. This information on policies, programs, and funding from all 10 jurisdictions is useful for identifying areas in common as well as innovative, effective approaches that might be transferable to other jurisdictions. It’s also helpful for identifying areas where our differences could be counterproductive to the shared goal of ensuring that the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River continue to provide a plentiful source of clean, affordable water to the region’s residents, businesses, and industries.

Finally, as Rep. Gabel observed yesterday, she will become GLLC chair in January. The new leadership team will have some overlap with the Commission: Commissioner Jennifer Schultz, State Representative from Minnesota, will become vice chair and Commissioner Carrie Ruud, Senator from Minnesota, will represent the state on the Caucus’s Executive Committee. And, of course, Minnesota Commissioner Sen. Ann Rest will continue to be an important and valued member of the Executive Committee as a past chair of the Caucus.

Congratulations to the commission, to Erika Jensen, and to the rest of the staff for hosting an excellent virtual meeting. I and the leaders of the Caucus look forward to interacting with everyone in person someday soon. Thank you.

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Annual Meeting Events Issues Members

GLLC Annual Meeting Goes Virtual

Like so many other meetings these days, the GLLC 2020 Annual Meeting is going virtual. We had an exciting agenda lined up for the in-person meeting planned in Detroit — including some really great off-site activities. With the pandemic, though, we’ll have to postpone those site-based activities until 2022. We can, however, bring high-quality, timely programming to GLLC members and other interested attendees through the wonders of technology. The significant “up” side to going virtual with this programming is that far more GLLC members and other legislators will have a chance to tune in to the sessions than could ever attend in person — especially in an election year!

We have four excellent sessions planned, featuring issues on the GLLC policy agenda and a variety of GLLC business. The full line-up is available here on the GLLC 2020 Virtual Meetings web page. We even have a handy flyer for you to share with colleagues who might be interested. All sessions will take place in Zoom and will start at 9 am CDT/10 am EDT. All sessions are open to anyone who would like to attend (we especially encourage GLLC members and other legislators to attend). And all sessions are free. We do ask attendees to please register here.

Kicking off the first session on September 11 will be Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha and Elin Betanzo speaking about the long-term health effects of lead poisoning on the children of Flint, Michigan, and what state and provincial legislators are doing and still can do to eliminate lead in drinking water. The business session will feature a final chair’s report from Indiana Sen. Ed Charbonneau, outgoing GLLC Chair, and a report from the Caucus’s Task Force on Lead about the GLLC’s recommended policies for reducing exposure to lead in drinking water.

The remaining three virtual meetings will continue on September 21, October 2, and October 9. To learn what’s in store, visit the 2020 Virtual Meetings web page or view our flyer. Feel free to share the flyer, too, with colleagues who may be interested.

We thank the Joyce Foundation, the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation, and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation for their generous support of the GLLC’s activities, including the 2020 Virtual Meetings.

Contact me at gllc@csg.org or 920.458.5910 if you have any questions about the virtual meetings or would like to learn about sponsorship opportunities.

Categories
AIS Coastal Communities Information Issues Nutrient Pollution Toxic Substances Water Consumption

GLLC Statement During June 23 GLEC Meeting

I was pleased to be able to make the following statement today on behalf of the GLLC during the semi-annual meeting of the binational Great Lakes Executive Committee (GLEC):

Thank you for holding this online meeting and giving me the chance to report to the GLEC on behalf of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Legislative Caucus, or GLLC. For those who aren’t familiar with the Caucus, it is a binational, nonpartisan organization of state and provincial legislators serving in the Great Lakes region. The Caucus was founded in 2003 by a group of highly engaged state legislators led by the late Michigan Senator Patty Birkholz.

Today’s meeting has covered a lot of ground. The cleanup of Areas of Concern and the economic benefits that result from those investments of federal, state, and local dollars; high lake levels and the impact they’re having on coastal communities; nutrients and chemicals of emerging concern that affect our drinking water resources; and aquatic nuisance species introduced into or spreading throughout the Great Lakes in ballast water or other means – these issues are all of great importance to the leaders and the members of the GLLC.

We know that moving the needle on all the issues discussed today requires a significant investment on the part of the federal governments, municipalities, and state and provincial governments. And that leads me to make two points.

First, the economic impact of the COVID pandemic will no doubt have an impact on our ability to devote the necessary resources to some of the issues that are most important to the Great Lakes community. We’ll need to manage our expectations in the near term and, ideally, coordinate regionally to identify the most critical investments – those that can have the biggest return or are the most protective of public and environmental health. And we’ll need to work together as a community to increase investments again once we’re through this public health and economic crisis.

Second, investments specifically from the states and provinces will be critical to our collective success in addressing the key issues covered today. Because the GLLC is the only Great Lakes organization whose members can pass laws and appropriate funding at the state and provincial level, I encourage the agencies to engage with GLLC members whenever you can.

Whether it’s speaking on one of the Caucus’s virtual meetings or including GLLC members or staff on stakeholder groups or the Great Lakes Advisory Board, it’s important to make sure state and provincial legislators are part of the discussion. If legislators are going to be asked to prioritize funding for Great Lakes projects over other important activities, they need to know what’s being done, why, and how that work will benefit the lakes and the residents, businesses, and industries that depend on them. Thank you.

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Information

Check out our new look!

After years of wishing, months of planning, and countless hours of work, our new website has finally arrived! We created this new space to be a web resource dedicated to the GLLC, its members, and the coordinated regional action that is the focus of the Caucus’s work.

Much of the site is ready to go, but we regard this space as a work in progress. The members of the GLLC staff are committed to keeping this site populated with timely, useful information for Great Lakes legislators — whether members of the Caucus or not (but we encourage all nonmember legislators to consider enrolling as members).

Please let us know what you think of the new site. And if you have any specific suggestions for information you’d like to see on this site, feel free to drop us a line at gllc@csg.org.

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Issues Nutrient Pollution Web Meeting

ICYMI: GLLC Web Meeting on Nutrient Pollution

On March 6, 2020, the GLLC’s quarterly web meeting focused on regional efforts to better manage nutrients to keep them out of the Great Lakes and their tributaries. Wisconsin Sen. André Jacque, Chair of the GLLC Task Force on Nutrient Management, began by reporting on the work of the task force, which aims to reduce nutrient runoff into waters of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence region and is working on model policies to bring that about. The task force has adopted a resolution and finalized an action plan. He briefly reviewed the plan’s goals.

Danielle Green of the U.S. EPA Great Lakes National Program Office (GLNPO) gave an overview of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and its “Focus Area 3” (Nonpoint Source Nutrient Reduction, the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, Lake Erie, and Harmful Algal Blooms). FA3 aims to reduce nutrient loads from farmland, reduce untreated stormwater runoff, improve the effectiveness of nonpoint source control, and refine management efforts. Annually, $35 million is spent on research into HABs, about $17.5 million of which is spent in/on Lake Erie.

Dr. Elizabeth Hinchey Malloy, also of GLNPO, gave an overview of the Great Lakes Water Quality Nutrients Annex, which focuses on reducing phosphorus runoff into Lake Erie. Four states have Domestic Action Plans – Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania – and there is a basin-wide plan for Lake Ontario. Dr. Hinchey Malloy briefly mentioned the Canada-Ontario Lake Erie Action Plan and science priorities for agricultural runoff.

Darren Nichols, Executive Director of the Great Lakes Commission, gave a guest presentation on the Commission’s work and priorities, its visit to Washington, D.C., 2020 priorities, and beta testing for policymakers of Blue Accounting software upgrades (on April 10). March 5 was “Great Lakes Day” on Capitol Hill, visiting with Congressmembers and some Canadian MPs.

The slidedeck and recording of the web meeting are available.

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Events Issues Lead Water Consumption Web Meeting

Action on Lead in Drinking Water

The GLLC’s Task Force on Lead held a web meeting on February 3 to learn about the U.S. EPA’s proposed changes to the Lead and Copper Rule. View the recorded web meeting here.

As part of its action plan for reducing lead in drinking water, the GLLC submitted comments on the proposed revisions. Key points raised in the comment letter were:

  • The federal government will need to increase investment in water infrastructure to help water suppliers upgrade their infrastructure while keeping water rates affordable;
  • Lead services lines should be fully replaced, not partially, in order to protect public health, with an aggressive time frame similar to Michigan’s 20-year period for replacement;
  • Water systems should test the water in all schools and child care centers for lead, with remedial action needed if lead is found in concentrations greater than 5 ppb;
  • Any communication to families or members of the public should be written for lay readers and translated into languages spoken by the affected community;
  • EPA should establish a clearinghouse for receiving standardized reports from states to help researchers document the incidence of lead contamination as well as identify effective strategies for eliminating the hazard.