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AIS Coastal Communities Federal Legislation Information Issues News Release Nutrient Pollution Toxic Substances Water Consumption

GLLC Joins Statement on U.S. Federal Great Lakes Priorities

On March 9, Great Lakes organizations across the region gathered in Washington D.C. to highlight U.S. federal priorities for the basin on Great Lakes Day. The Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Legislative Caucus (GLLC) signed onto the joint statement addressing Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) funding, water infrastructure investment, climate resiliency, harmful algal blooms, emerging contaminants, and aquatic invasive species.

“The Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Legislative Caucus is glad to once again stand beside the Great Lakes Commission and coalition of esteemed Great Lakes organizations in communicating a shared vision for Great Lakes U.S. federal policy, ” said Wisconsin Senator André Jacque, GLLC Chair. The GLLC is committed to working with partners at all levels of government and across non-profit and academic sectors to make progress on safe water consumption, nutrient management, cleaning up toxic substances, preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species, and protecting coastal communities.

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AIS Coastal Communities Information Issues News Release Nutrient Pollution Policy S/P Legislation Toxic Substances Water Consumption

A Look Back at Great Lakes Legislation: The 2021-2022 Session

During the 2021-2022 legislative session, the GLLC tracked more than three hundred pieces of legislation in the Great Lakes states and provinces related to our five issues areas: aquatic invasive species, coastal communities, nutrient management, toxic substances, and water consumption. one-third of the 2021-2022 bills and resolutions were introduced or co-sponsored by GLLC members.

Of the introduced bills, 61 were signed into law. Water consumption was the most active issue area. Legislators required water utilities to replace lead service lines (Illinois); allocated additional funds to water infrastructure (Michigan); banned new water-use permits for bulk transport sale of water (Minnesota); and bolstered lead testing programs for vulnerable populations (New York and Pennsylvania).

The second most active area for successful legislation was nutrient pollution. Legislators increased regulations on pesticides (Illinois); created and/or reauthorized programs to help landowners employ best practices on farmland (Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota); and increased funding for water quality and nutrient runoff work (Michigan, Ohio).

When it comes to toxic substances, GLLC jurisdictions banned incineration of PFAS (Illinois); banned use of PFAS compounds in dry cleaning and food packaging (Minnesota); listed emerging contaminants as hazardous (Minnesota, New York); and expanded funding for disposal and clean-up of PFAS (Wisconsin).

For coastal communities, legislation strengthened rescue equipment on the lakes (Michigan); removed requirements for municipal lakefront developments to include an oil refinery (Indiana); established funds for climate resiliency (New York); changed development regimes for floodzones (Québec); required permits for wetland, stream, or floodplain restoration (Wisconsin; and allowed removed sediment to be reused as beach nourishment (Wisconsin).

In the area of aquatic invasive species, Minnesota’s environmental and natural resources bill included funding for the University of Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center.

All of the tracked legislation can be reviewed in the archived 2021-2022 tracker.

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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.