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  W E E K L Y  U P D A T E   December 11, 2017
In This Issue

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Briefing This Week on
Great Lakes Maritime Issues
Thursday, December 14, 8:30 AM - 10:00 AM
209-08 Senate Visitor Center

The Northeast-Midwest Institute and the Conference of Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Governors and Premiers will host a Congressional briefing highlighting the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Maritime Day on Thursday, December 14.

Speakers will focus on critical maritime issues impacting the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence region, including:
  • Soo Locks
    • Overview and project status
  • Smart ships
    • Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Governors & Premiers partnership with Norwegian Forum for Autonomous Ships
  • Cruising and customs issues
    • Regional plan for permanent Customs clearance facilities
Information on NEMWI's Great Lakes Washington Program, which is co-hosting this briefing, can be found here.

For more information, please contact  Matthew McKenna , Director of the Great Lakes Washington Program at the Northeast-Midwest Institute.
Threats to Drinking Water Examined
Briefing Last Week

The Northeast-Midwest Institute explored lead, PFCs, and other threats to safe drinking water in a Capitol Hill briefing to Congressional staffers and regional stakeholders on December 5. 

Hosted in collaboration with Congressman Paul Tonko (NY-20), the briefing featured remarks from Congressmen Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-08) and Dan Kildee (MI-05). The briefing's panel included three experts on various aspects of the topic. With two-thirds of lead service lines being in the Northeast and Midwest, each panelist stressed the importance of taking action to keep drinking water safe and drinking water infrastructure well-maintained and lead-free.

The presentation slides and a full, timestamped audio recording of the briefing can be found  here . Information on NEMWI's Safe Drinking Water Research and Policy Program can be found here.

Congressman Dan Kildee of Flint, MI highlighted how common and dangerous aging water infrastructure across the country is, stating: "The issues in Flint are...not some sort of extreme exception, not some sort of an anomaly. It's basically a warning that if we don't get this right--if we don't figure out a way to reprioritize reinvestment in these essential systems--what happened in my community will happen all over the country."

Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick emphasized the impact of perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) in ground water in his district and in other communities with military installations, highlighting two recent amendments passed in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2018 that would fund a 5-year study on the health impacts of PFCs and direct the Department of Defense to find PFC-free foams to use.

For more information, please contact  Sri Vedachalam , Director of the Safe Drinking Water Research and Policy Program at the Northeast-Midwest Institute.
Briefing Held on Nitrates and
Drinking Water Treatment Costs
in Upper Mississippi River Basin

The costs of removing nitrates from drinking water in the Upper Mississippi River Basin  were the subject of a Capitol Hill briefing hosted by the Northeast-Midwest Institute on December 6.

Hosted in collaboration with Senator Amy Klobuchar (MN), the briefing featured a panel of five science and policy specialists who presented on the importance of conservation initiatives and water quality monitoring to preserve the health of the Mississippi River Basin.
The presentation slides and a full, timestamped audio recording of the briefing can be found here. Information on NEMWI's Mississippi River Basin Program can be found here.

In addition, Northeast-Midwest Institute staff  presented an overview of its ongoing study: "Connecting Nutrient Loading in the Mississippi River to Drinking Water Treatment Costs". The study will quantify the effects of nutrient pollution in the Upper Mississippi River Basin to drinking water treatment costs, and will be used to inform reauthorization of the Farm Bill in 2018.

For more information, please contact Joe Vukovich, Senior Policy Analyst, or Ankita Mandelia, Policy Analyst, at the Northeast-Midwest Institute.
Great Lakes Congressional Leaders
Submit Brandon Road Comments to USACE

Senate and House Great Lakes Congressional leaders have submitted formal comments to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) about the draft Tentatively Selected Plan (TSP) at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam, which details options for how to prevent invasive Asian carp from reaching the Great Lakes through the Chicago Area Waterway System (CAWS). The due date for comments was last Friday. 
The Senate letter, led by Senate Great Lakes Task Force Co-Chairs Debbie Stabenow (MI) and Rob Portman (OH), calls for the USACE to complete the Brandon Road Study by January 2019, while strongly emphasizing the potential devastation Asian carp could have on the Great Lakes.  A copy of the letter can be viewed here. Additionally, Senator Stabenow along with Senator Gary Peters (MI) sent a letter to the USACE expressing their concerns over the delay in finalizing the Brandon Road Study, which can be viewed here.

House Great Lakes Task Force Co-Chairs Marcy Kaptur (OH), Bill Huizenga (MI), Louise Slaughter (NY), and Sean Duffy (WI-07), along with Northeast-Midwest Coalition Co-Chairs David Joyce (OH) and Rick Nolan (MN), spearheaded comments similar to that of the Senate's, calling on the USACE to release the Brandon Road study no later than February 2019. The full letter can be viewed here.

For more information, please contact  Matthew McKenna , Director of the Great Lakes Washington Program at the Northeast-Midwest Institute.
NEMWI Senior Fellow Presents on New Administration's Impact on Brownfields

NEMWI Senior Fellow Charlie Bartsch addressed concerns over the Trump Administration's approach to brownfield redevelopment efforts with a  presentation at the University of Pittsburgh on December 8. The presentation examined the current redevelopment climate for brownfield site cleanup and trends in brownfield financing and legislation.

A major focus of the presentation was the potential impact of tax reform on key incentives used in financing brownfields redevelopment. Mr. Bartsch reviewed both the House and Senate versions of the tax bill, both of which would cut key tax credits used to combat brownfields--the House bill potentially devastatingly so.

Mr. Bartsch concluded that tax reform bill provisions, cuts in appropriations, and cut-backs in executive branch initiatives make it necessary for groups to create novel financing strategies to combat brownfields.

For more information, please contact  Charlie Bartsch, Senior Fellow at the Northeast-Midwest Institute. The slides used during Mr. Bartsch's presentation can be viewed  here.
This Week on Capitol Hill

The House and Senate continue to conference on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act this week. Additionally, Congressional leaders are negotiating budget deals to lift spending caps and fund the federal government past December 22.

A full list of key Congressional committee activity that impacts the region can be viewed below:

Tuesday, December 12
  • The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing to consider nominations, including that of Timothy R. Petty to be Assistant Secretary of the Interior (Water and Science) at 10:00 AM in 366 Dirksen Senate Office Building.
  • The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard will hold a hearing entitled "National Ocean Policy: Stakeholder Perspectives" at 2:30 PM in 253 Russell Senate Office Building.
Wednesday, December 13
  • The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee will hold an executive session at 10:00 AM in 216 Hart Senate Office Building.
    Agenda items of note include:
    • S.2202, National Transportation Safety Board Reauthorization Act.
    • Nomination of Barry Lee Myers to be Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere.
For more information, please email .

NEMWI: Strengthening the Region that Sustains the Nation