I’m just back from a full week in Washington, D.C., where the Healing Our Waters Coalition and the Great Lakes Commission held an awesomely successful Great Lakes Day. Over 200 leaders descended on the Capitol, visiting over 85 House and Senate offices and talking to key members of the Administration.
Great Lakes director Cam Davis keynoted the HOW and GLC conference, and the groups gave special recognition awards to Senator George Voinovich and Congressman Vern Ehlers. For more details on this event, check out Jeff Alexander’s post on the Healing Our Waters blog.
I also had the chance to testify yesterday before Senator Stabenow’s subcommittee on Asian carp and the government’s plans to combat a Great Lakes Asian carp invasion. You can read my full testimony here. There were eight of us on two panels, a wide variety of witnesses from federal agencies, the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, Dr. John Taylor (who authored the best study to date on the real costs of lock closure), Michigan Office of Great Lakes Director Ken DeBeaussaert, and Illinois DNR Director Mark Miller. I saw some real progress at the hearing. Almost all the witnesses, including Illinois’ Mark Miller, favored ecological separation as a permanent solution and wanted to get there as soon as possible. The witnesses also all recognized that there is no short-term emergency measure that can completely safeguard the lakes and so all the measures need to be used together. There was disagreement over the frequency and scale of some of the measures (particularly lock closures), but there was more emphasis on where there was consensus for moving forward.
The big development that helped bring everyone together was the Great Lakes Commission’s adoption of a resolution endorsing the concept of ecological separation as the best way of protecting the Great Lakes from Asian carp. This was so important because it included support from Illinois; it really made all the Senators sit up and take notice.
The next milestone (at least, the next one we can anticipate) is the Corps’ release of a modified lock operations plan, due out in the next week or two. Here’s hoping that the new plan is a channel by channel, lock by lock strategy on how to stop the movement of the invasive carp in the short run, and not another concept document.