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W E E K L Y  U P D A T E  September 30th,  2019
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Congressional Briefing Announced On Efficiently Funding Soo Locks

The Northeast-Midwest Institute and the Great Lakes Governors & Premiers will host a Congressional briefing on efficiently funding the Soo Locks on October 17th at 9 a.m. 

Please join representatives of the Conference of Great Lakes St. Lawrence Governors & Premiers, the Great Lakes States, Lake Carriers' Association, and the American Great Lakes Ports Association for this important conversation.

The Soo Locks at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, are a vital component of the nation's infrastructure. In 2018, Congress re-authorized construction of a new lock at full federal expense after the US Army Corps of Engineers benefit-cost analysis favorably rated this project. The Great Lakes Governors and a coalition of regional stakeholders have called on Congress to appropriate needed funds to efficiently fund this crucial national infrastructure. 

What: Congressional Briefing on Efficiently Funding the Soo Locks
When: Thursday, October 17, 2019, from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.
Where: SVC-215
Who: Hosted by the Northeast-Midwest Institute and the Great Lakes Governors & Premiers; and with participation from the Great Lakes States, the Lake Carriers' Association, the American Great Lakes Ports Association, and other possible organizations

And special thanks to Senator Debbie Stabenow (MI), Co-Chair of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force, in coordinating space for this important briefing.

To RSVP, please email Matt McKenna, Director of the Great Lakes Washington Program at the Northeast-Midwest Institute, at

NEMWI Briefing Highlights GLRI's Regional Economic Benefits 

A Congressional briefing conducted by Northeast-Midwest Institute held on Thursday, September 19 discussed the successes of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) and the continued need for federal support for the program to clean up the Great Lakes. The GLRI is a critical federal program that has done tremendous work growing and rebuilding the Great Lakes region's environment and economy. The briefing provided an overview of the resources needed in the Great Lakes region to continue the progress being made through the GLRI, while also touching on the GLRI Act of 2019, critical legislation that would reauthorize the GLRI for 5 years, starting at $375 million in FY 2022, and increasing by $25 million each year through FY 2026. 

The panel of policy experts consisted of:
  • Matt Mckenna, Director of the Great Lakes Washington Program, Northeast-Midwest Institute (NEMWI)
  • John Hartig Ph.D, Great Lakes Science-Policy Director, International Association for Great Lakes Research (IAGLR)
  • Matt Doss, Policy Director, Great Lakes Commission (GLC)
  • Alexis J. Lopez-Cepero, Water Policy Fellow, Healing Our Waters: Great Lakes Coalition (HOW)

A recording of the briefing can be found  here.

Matt McKenna provided a brief overview of the GLRI and the importance of continued federal support for it. He highlighted the five focus areas that the GLRI aims to address: toxic substances and areas of concern (AOC); invasive species like Asian carp; nearshore health and non point source pollution; habitat and wildlife protection and restoration; and accountability, monitoring, evaluation, communities, and partnerships.

Dr. John Hartig discussed a recent IAGLR study that focused on the societal and economic benefits that the GLRI is having on the region through the cleanup of the most polluted and toxic spots in the Great Lakes, which are otherwise known as Areas of Concern (AOC). His presentation focused on AOCs such as the Buffalo River and the St. Louis River, both sites where significant cleanup efforts have had a dramatic impact on those communities. On the Buffalo River AOC site alone, more than $428 million has been generated through waterfront development because of cleanup efforts. 

Matt Doss focused on a quantitative economic study, which was led by the Great Lakes Commission and several other Great Lakes organizations, and authored by economists from a handful of universities, including the University of Michigan. The study found that for every GLRI dollar spent, an additional $3.35 of economic activity was generated. The funding from GLRI has had a major impact on the regional economy by helping create thousands of jobs, increasing personal income, and helping retain and bring in new residents to a region whose population has been stagnant compared to other regions across the country over the last 20 years.

Finally, Alexis J. Lopez-Cepero provided success stories achieved through the GLRI. The Healing Our Waters Great Lakes Coalition, a coalition of national and regional organizations focusing on environmental health, continues to play a large role in communicating how the GLRI is improving the quality of life of communities throughout the region. He told numerous stories about how GLRI is connecting nonprofit organizations, government agencies, private businesses and property owners to work together to clean up toxic hot spots, restore fish and wildlife habitat, and protect the lakes from invasive species.

For more information, please contact  Matthew McKennaDirector of the Great Lakes Washington Program at the Northeast-Midwest Institute.

Rep. Dave Joyce Elected new Co-Chair of Congressional Great Lakes Task Force

Representative Dave Joyce (R-OH) has been elected by his colleagues to serve as the newest Co-Chair of the bipartisan working group, the Congressional Great Lakes Task Force. The task force works to advocate for policies and programs that enhance our unique natural resource - the Great Lakes. Members of the Great Lakes Task Force work together to build support for key regional programs to enhance environmental quality and economic development throughout the Great Lakes basin. 

Rep. Joyce, who replaces former Representative Sean Duffy (R-WI), will join Representatives Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Bill Huizenga (R-MI), and Debbie Dingell (D-MI) as Co-Chairs of the House Great Lakes Task Force. Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Rob Portman (R-OH) serve as Co-Chairs of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force, with Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Todd Young (R-IN) serving as Vice-Chairs. 

On his appointment, Rep. Joyce said, "A lifelong resident of Northeast Ohio, I have never been shy about my support for the Great Lakes. The lakes are an invaluable natural resource and economic powerhouse, providing more than 1.5 million jobs, supplying 90% of our nation's fresh surface water, supporting over 3,500 species of plants and animals, and generating $62 billion in wages every year. I look forward to working with my colleagues on the Task Force, especially Reps. Kaptur, Huizenga and Dingell, to continue protecting the national treasure that is the Great Lakes system and preserve it for both current and future generations."

Rep. Joyce is the Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Committee's Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies, which funds many of the critical federal programs that are essential in preserving the Great Lakes, including the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI). He has sponsored numerous pieces of legislation to protect the Great Lakes, including the recent introduction of legislation reauthorizing the GLRI when it expires at the end of FY 2021. Rep. Joyce's district is situated on the eastern Ohio shoreline of Lake Erie.

Read more on Rep. Joyce's appointment announcement here.

For more information, please contact Matthew McKenna, Director of the Great Lakes Washington Program at the Northeast-Midwest Institute.
Update: Senate Appropriations Bills Approved - Includes Funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative
Two Senate Appropriations bills - FY2020 Interior Environment Appropriations Act and FY2020 CJS Appropriations Act - have been approved by the Senate Committee on Appropriations on Thursday, September 26th. The two measures represent $35.8 billion and $70.8 billion in funding, respectively, for federal agencies related to environmental, commerce, justice, and science services. Both bills were approved 31-0 by Committee members.
Highlights of the Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Act (CJS) include $15.2 billion in funding for the Department of Commerce, reflecting the Committee's support for "economic development, strengthening trade enforcement, improving fisheries management, protecting intellectual property rights, and advancing severe weather forecasting." The bill also includes $22.75 billion in funding for NASA and related agencies. The full breakdown of the bill can be found here.
Highlights of the Interior Environment Appropriations Act include funding for the Department of Interior, Bureau of Land Management, and National Parks Service. The Northeast-Midwest Institute is pleased to announce that included in this bill is $301 million in federal funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI). The full breakdown of the bill can be found here.
This Week in Washington

The Senate and House of Representatives will be in recess for the next two weeks.

NEMWI: Strengthening the Region that Sustains the Nation