Toxic Substances

Dredging of the Sheboygan River removed sediment contaminated with PCBs and other toxic chemicals. Photo credit: US EPA.

Legislators from the Great Lakes region have long been aware of the harm to the environment and the economy caused by industrial pollution. Increasing protections for water, land, and air have helped to prevent pollution in modern times. Cleaning up toxic “Areas of Concern” (AOCs) that resulted from past practices, however, requires a significant investment of time and funding from all levels of government as well as the responsible parties and community organizations. While progress is made on cleaning up legacy pollution, emerging contaminants pose new threats to water quality.

What is the GLLC Doing?

The GLLC’s policy agenda commits the organization to the following:

  • Support full federal funding in the U.S. and Canada for Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River restoration and protection initiatives
  • Endorse the efforts of Great Lakes jurisdictions to obtain funding for cleaning up Areas of Concern (AOCs)
  • Identify the potential health effects of emerging contaminants in the water supply and best practices for protecting the public
  • Encourage public and private efforts to prevent oil spills and other industrial pollution

The Caucus has been a strong advocate of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) in the U.S. The members annually appeal to Congress and the president to ensure full funding of this vital program that, among other things, makes it possible to clean up toxic AOCs around the Great Lakes and restore them to beneficial use.

Another issue the GLLC follows is the search in the U.S. and Canada for potential sites to locate nuclear waste storage and disposal facilities. The GLLC takes the position that such facilities should not be constructed within the Great Lakes basin in either country.

Emerging issues that the GLLC follows include PFAS contamination of water in the region and the operation or replacement of Line 5 under the Straits of Mackinac.

Policy Positions and Correspondence

For More Information

Areas of Concern

Nuclear Waste Facilities