Coalition of cities, states, tribes, business, industry and conservation organizations release joint priorities for the Great LakesLeave a Comment
Ahead of Great Lakes Day this week in Washington D.C., a coalition representing business, industry and environmental groups and cities, states, and tribes released joint priorities for sustaining Great Lakes restoration and economic revitalization. The coalition presented a joint agenda for the lakes, which serve as the source of drinking water for more than 48 million people in the U.S. and Canada and directly generate more than 1.5 million jobs. The agenda urges members of Congress and the administration to fully fund the critical Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, preserve and strengthen agricultural conservation programs, invest in aging water infrastructure, maintain and upgrade ports, locks and other navigation infrastructure, and protect the Great Lakes from aquatic invasive species.
“These joint priorities show how essential the Great Lakes are to both our region’s unique ecosystem and $5 trillion economy,” said John Linc Stine, chair of the Great Lakes Commission and commissioner of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. “On behalf of our member states and provinces, I am proud to stand with this diverse coalition and present joint priorities for restoring and protecting the lakes.”
“We’re asking Congress to not let up now: Federal Great Lakes restoration investments have been producing results for our environment and economy—but serious threats remain,” said Todd Ambs, campaign director for the 150-member Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. “Until drinking water restrictions, fish consumption advisories, beach closures, and toxic hotspots are a thing of the past, our work is not done. We’re counting on Congress to maintain support for a robust Great Lakes platform that includes continued restoration work and a bipartisan water infrastructure package that provides financial relief to local communities and ensures that every person has access to clean, safe and affordable drinking water.”
“The Great Lakes Congressional delegation has a strong history of rallying behind the Great Lakes, largely because we are united in our interest in protecting and improving these invaluable resources,” said Robert Lambe, executive secretary of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission. “The Fishery alone is worth $7 billion annually to the people of Canada and the United States, and we appreciate the strong, binational commitment to the Lakes.”
“It is imperative for Washington to understand the value of protecting our drinking water for current and future generations,” said Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative chairman, Mayor Paul Dyster (Niagara Falls-NY). “If they do not act now, taxpayers will face greater costs moving forward.”
“We’ve all come together to repair these Great Lakes and we can’t walk away now,” Jane A. TenEyck, Executive Director of the Chippewa Ottawa Resource Authority. “Much work remains to be done.”
“The Great Lakes are a critical resource for this region's economy, and restoring them spurs economic revitalization and creates jobs,” said Kathryn Buckner, president of the Council of Great Lakes Industries (CGLI). “CGLI members look to the bipartisan Great Lakes congressional delegation to fully fund the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, strengthen investments in drinking water and wastewater infrastructure, and maintain and upgrade commercial ports, locks and other navigation infrastructure.”
The priorities were endorsed by the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, Great Lakes Commission, Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition, Great Lakes Fishery Commission, Chippewa Ottawa Resource Authority, Council of Great Lakes Industries, and the Great Lakes Metro Chambers Coalition. They were released in advance of Great Lakes Day, an annual event that brings hundreds of people from dozens of organizations to Washington, D.C., to educate elected officials about the importance of the lakes.
Cities Initiative Statement on Trump Administration’s Proposed Cuts to the Great Lakes Restoration InitiativeLeave a Comment
The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative (Cities Initiative), a coalition of mayors from over 130 cities across the basin representing over 17 million people, expresses deep concern over the Trump Administration’s proposed budget cuts to key Great Lakes funding programs. On Monday, the White House released its $4.4 trillion budget proposal for fiscal year 2019, which slashes funds to the successful, bipartisan Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) by 90 percent and Environmental Protection Agency funding by 23 percent.
Chair of the Cities Initiative Paul Dyster, Mayor of Niagara Falls, New York, said, “How the President can think that striping the funds that help protect the Great Lakes is a good thing clearly demonstrates his lack of understanding of how fragile the Great Lakes really are.”
John Dickert, President and CEO of the Cities Initiative, said, “With this devastating funding cut, the President has abandoned the Great Lakes region yet again. This short-sighted proposed budget would devastate our region’s freshwater and $5.8 trillion binational Great Lakes economy for generations.”
The GLRI provides integral funding for cleaning up toxic waste sites, improving storm water management, combating invasive species like Asian carp, and protecting habitat for fish and wildlife in the basin. Waterfront cities that rely on the lakes for their thriving tourism, navigation, industry, and drinking water are especially concerned about the cuts. The GLRI has a proven record of success and receives strong bipartisan support in Congress.
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In June of 2017, the more than 130 member mayors of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative called on the US and Canadian federal governments to work together to designate the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence River and Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River is a unique ecosystem of worldwide significance and if successful, this would be one of the largest UNESCO Biosphere Reserves on the planet. Biosphere reserves designate areas of global biodiversity and importance and emphasize the value of shared human and natural use of land.
Cities Initiative Chair, Mayor Paul Dyster of Niagara Falls, New York, said, “News of the potential U.S. withdrawal from UNESCO is unfortunate. As a binational coalition of mayors working between the US and Canada, eight states and two provinces, we recognize the significance of working within the global community to protect our natural resources and promote their sustainable management.”
Mayor Bonnie Crombie of Mississauga, Ontario, added, “The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River represent the largest concentration of fresh water on the planet. Their importance is greater than any one political administration or policy. Now, more than ever, we must push ahead with achieving the UNESCO designation to make sure that everyone, governments included, understand the importance of this biosphere to our survival as a people on both sides of the border.”
The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative is a coalition of 131 U.S. and Canadian cities and mayors representing over 17 million people committed to the long term protection and restoration of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence.
Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Mayors Call for Caution regarding the proposed Chalk River Laboratory Waste Management FacilityLeave a Comment
Chicago, August 15, 2017 – The mayors of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative issued comments today regarding the proposed Chalk River Laboratory Waste Management Facility. The proposed facility would store low-level radioactive waste and would be located approximately 0.6 miles from the Ottawa River, a major tributary to the St. Lawrence River. In its written comments, the Cities Initiative calls for caution, primarily for the sake of protecting drinking water and public safety. The Cities Initiative addressed concerns around water protection, operational safety, long-term responsibility and accountability, remediation and financial compensation, and emergency preparedness. A few key points from the comments include the recommendation that Canadian Nuclear Laboratories be
The Cities Initiative addressed concerns around water protection, operational safety, long-term responsibility and accountability, remediation and financial compensation, and emergency preparedness. A few key points from the comments include the recommendation that Canadian Nuclear Laboratories be held accountable for the entirety of the project through the creation of a long-term operation and maintenance contingency fund. The organization also calls for CNL to clearly state the acceptance rules for waste so that no liquid radioactive waste is accepted. Furthermore, municipal leaders call for the identification of zero-risk management methods to ensure environmental and public safety.
Finally, the mayors of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence region require commitments around the coordination of all entities involved in emergency response measures, their training and the exchange of information in the event of a disaster. Adequate compensation for the costs incurred in managing a potential environmental accident must also be ensured.
The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative is a binational coalition of 131 cities in the United States, Ontario and Quebec representing over 17 million citizens. The mayors work with governments, First Nations and Tribes, and non-governmental organizations throughout the basin to protect, restore and enhance the world's largest source of freshwater.Leave a Comment
The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative (Cities Initiative) announced today it is settling its challenge to the Waukesha Diversion Approval with an agreement to collaborate on improving the review of water diversion applications in the future. The agreement between the Cities Initiative and the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Council (Compact Council) calls for a rigorous review of the Compact Council and Regional Body’s process for considering diversions, with extensive stakeholder involvement in determining formal rules and revised guidelines for the future.
“Our challenge has always been about improving the Compact to ensure the protection of our water resources,” said Paul Dyster, Mayor of Niagara Falls, New York and Chair of the Cities Initiative. “We want to make sure future applications for diversion are subject to robust and detailed standards of evaluation and a thorough process allowing input from impacted stakeholders.”
Sandra Cooper, Mayor of the Town of Collingwood, Ontario and Vice Chair of the Cities Initiative added, “As a binational organization, we are proud to be working with the Compact Council, Regional Body, and other stakeholders in the U.S. and Canada to improve the process for future water diversion applications.”
“This agreement will help protect the long term integrity of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River for future generations,” said Régis Labeaume, President of the Québec Metropolitan Community and Secretary of the Cities Initiative. “As governors and mayors, we must be held accountable and work together for the protection of our region’s most cherished resource.”
The agreement includes review of many aspects of the process for evaluating applications for diversion, including the public engagement process, development of the record to support any decisions made by the Compact Council and Regional Body, public hearings in Canada and the United States, consideration of new information that becomes available during the process, changes in the application while under consideration, and much more.
“We appreciate the tremendous consideration the Compact Council has given us,” said John Dickert, President and CEO of the Cites Initiative. “This mutually beneficial settlement agreement has set the foundation for meaningful progress to safeguard our valuable water resources.”
The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative is a coalition of 131 U.S. and Canadian cities and mayors representing over 17 million people committed to the long term protection and restoration of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence. The Cities Initiative thanks Jenner & Block LLP for its efforts in support of the challenge and the future of the Great Lakes.Leave a Comment
The Thames River Phosphorus Reduction Collaborative is developing innovative tools, practices and technologies to help farmers and municipalities reduce phosphorus and algal blooms in the southwestern Ontario watershed which feeds into Lake Erie. The project was officially launched at a press conference today.
“We’re determined to improve the quality of water in the Thames, and that means working with everyone from farmers to drainage engineers and conservation authorities to First Nations and universities to come up with practical, cost-effective water management and drainage solutions for both urban and agricultural areas,” said Randy Hope, Mayor of Chatham-Kent and the project’s co-chair.
Elevated levels of phosphorus in water that runs off agricultural fields and collects in municipal drains can trigger the growth of toxic algal blooms in downstream water bodies. The western basin of Lake Erie has experienced several such incidents in recent years, disrupting the ecosystem, causing the closure of beaches and even, in Toledo, Ohio a ban on city drinking water for two days. Lake St. Clair, which is an indirect pathway to Lake Erie, has also been experiencing problems with near-shore algal blooms.
Among the initiatives aimed at resolving the problem is a commitment made in 2016 between Canada and the U.S. to a 40 per cent reduction in the total phosphorus entering Lake Erie. There is also a commitment among Ohio, Michigan and Ontario to reduce phosphorus by 40 per cent by 2025.
“We’re doing research with the goal of creating a suite of tools and practices that farmers can use to address different situations,” said Mark Reusser, Vice-President of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (TBC). He added that the group has gathered research from around the world and is looking into how it could be applied locally.
Project partners are working to fulfill some of the recommendations made in the “Partnering in Phosphorus Control” Draft Action Plan for Lake Erie that the Canadian and Ontario governments released in March. The governments completed a public consultation in May and are expected to have a plan in place next year.
The project’s new website is at www.thamesriverprc.com
The project is administered by the Ontario Federation of Agriculture and the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative. It was funded in part through Growing Forward 2 (GF2), a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. The Agricultural Adaptation Council assists in the delivery of GF2 in Ontario.
Great Lakes & St. Lawrence Cities Initiative Mayors Mobilize over Great Lakes Restoration and Climate ChangeLeave a Comment
“This has been a very busy year. The Trump administration backed out of cutting the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative for the remainder of 2017, but we must continue the battle for 2018 and beyond. 48 million people depend on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence for their drinking water. We are concerned for the future because such a decision would affect us all, from the port of Montreal to the waterfront restaurant in Windsor to the sport fisherman on Lake Superior, declared Mayor Coderre.”
Mayors of the Cities Initiative also ask the Canadian government to develop a more comprehensive strategy and framework for Great Lakes and St. Lawrence funding. “Given the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence are a shared responsibility, both federal governments must reflect the importance of the resource in their budgets. The mayors of the Cities Initiative will continue working with the Government of Canada to develop a funding strategy for the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River to ensure their successful restoration and protection for years to come”, said Sandra Cooper, Mayor of Collingwood, ON and vice-chair of the Cities Initiative.
Following the United States departure from the Paris Climate Change Agreement, Mayors reemphasized the increased role of cities in the fight against climate change. “While the President of the United States has bowed out of the Paris Agreement, we are stepping up as cities to lead the charge against climate change,” added Paul Dyster, new Chair of the Cities Initiative and Mayor of Niagara Falls, New York.
The mayors also resolved to seek UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve status for the entire Great Lakes and St. Lawrence basin, a measure intended to draw international attention to the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River as a unique ecosystem of worldwide significance. The resolution encourages the US and Canadian federal governments to pursue creating one of the largest UNESCO Biosphere Reserves on the planet.
The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative is a coalition of 130 cities from the United States and Canada representing over 17 million people who work together for the long term protection and restoration of the resource. The mayors work closely with state, provincial, federal, tribal, first nation, metis, industry, and non-government representatives from across the basin to protect, restore, and sustain one of the largest freshwater resources in the world.
Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Mayors Denounce President Trump’s Withdrawal from Paris Agreement on Climate ChangeLeave a Comment
The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative (Cities Initiative), a coalition representing 130 United States and Canadian mayors and their communities of over 17 million people, strongly denounce the decision of President Trump to back out of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. The decision is short sighted, ill advised, and not in the best interests of the people of the United States, Canada, or the world. With climate change posing one of the greatest threats to the planet and its water, it is unacceptable for the second largest source of greenhouse gas emissions not to participate in this global effort.
“The Paris Agreement, a historic diplomatic success, expresses an unprecedented willingness of the international community to put the world on the path to more sustainable development,” said Chair of the Cities Initiative Mayor Denis Coderre of Montreal, a leader in other global metropolitan organizations in the fight against climate change. “Cities have played a crucial role in the success of the Paris Conference, affirming the determination of municipal and regional authorities to act together to fight climate change. The declaration of the President of the United States to withdraw from the Paris Agreement breeds consternation in the major cities of the world. In spite of this setback, though, cities shall not give up, and are conscious of fully meeting their responsibilities. Cities will remain at the forefront of the fight against climate change, and will continue to ensure constant leadership to maintain the impetus given by the Paris Agreement.”
“With a total lack of leadership in Washington on this issue, cities are prepared to step forward with states, provinces, business, organizations, and all who are willing to take on the greatest challenge to our future,” added Mayor Paul Dyster of Niagara Falls, NY, Vice Chair of the organization. “We are already implementing many measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, adapt to the many changes already occurring, and becoming more resilient to the changes that are just around the corner.”
The Secretary and Treasurer of the organization, Mayor Sandra Cooper of the Town of Collingwood, Ontario, said, “These dangers from climate change are clear and present in the streets of our cities today, and we do not have the luxury of abandoning our responsibility to deal with them. We will step up and step forward.”
“This action by the Trump administration confirms a total lack of understanding and appreciation for the magnitude of the challenge presented by climate change,” added Executive Director of the Cities Initiative David Ullrich, “The future economic well-being and quality of life of our region depend on our collective efforts to solve this problem.”Leave a Comment
The Trump Administration released its proposed 2018 budget to Congress today, eliminating $300 million in funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI). The GLRI provides funding for cleaning up toxic waste sites, improving storm water management, combatting invasive species like Asian carp, and protecting habitat for fish and wildlife in the basin. Waterfront cities that rely on the lakes for their thriving tourism, navigation, industry, and drinking water are especially concerned about the cuts. The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative (Cities Initiative), a coalition of 130 United States and Canadian mayors representing over 17 million people, expresses extreme dissatisfaction with the Administration’s ill-advised decision.
“GLRI has been instrumental in revitalizing the Great Lakes region and we must maintain this momentum with continued, full federal funding,” said Executive Director of the Cities Initiative, David Ullrich. “Everyone from shippers and boaters to hunters and anglers to the lakefront residents drinking a glass of tap water benefits from GLRI. Without it, we are needlessly risking the $5.8 trillion regional economy and public health in both the United States and Canada.”
The Cities Initiative is calling upon members of Congress to secure full funding for GLRI through letters to the bipartisan Great Lakes Congressional Task Force and Congressional appropriators. During the Cities Initiative’s Annual Meeting and Conference in June in Montreal, QC, the importance of GLRI will be highlighted with testimonials from US cities about GLRI’s numerous successes.Leave a Comment
In a recent letter to Senate and House Appropriations Committees, the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative expressed support for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and requested the appropriation of $300 million for the program in the Fiscal Year 2018 appropriations.
“Annual investment through GLRI aids in the recovery of the Great Lakes after decades of industrial pollution and safeguards these precious water resources from invasive species and harmful algal blooms,” said the letter. “The magnitude of the proposed cuts would have serious implications for the economy and restoration efforts of the Great Lakes region.”
The letter also reiterates the shared responsibility for Great Lakes restoration and protection among all orders of government and highlights the $15 billion in annual spending by local governments to fund Great Lakes efforts.