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GLIN==> NEMW/Great Lakes Hill Update - Appropriations Update



     HOUSE E&W APPROPRIATIONS BILL:

H.R.2605  Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act, 2000 (Reported in the
House)

Title I - General Expenses

Page 9, Line 18-21

Provided further, That none of these funds shall be used to support more than 
one regional office in each Corps of Engineers division, which office shall 
serve as divisional headquarters.
                                        


        The Great Lakes/Ohio River division is currently the only Army Corps of 
Engineers division operating with dual headquarters (Cincinnati and Chicago).  
The effect of this provision will be the closure of the Chicago office and the 
removal of all Great Lakes oversight/coordination (budget...) responsibilities 
to the `sister' headquarters in Cincinnati - outside the Great Lakes basin.

        The maintenance of dual division headquarters in our region was the 
concession won in 1996 ago by members of the Great Lakes Task Force when the 
Administration proposed closure of the Chicago office in response to 
restructuring requirements.  

Issues raised in 1996 re closing the Chicago office:

        Uniqueness of the Great Lakes system/issues - freshwater coastal 
engineering, contaminated sediments, International Joint Commission related 
activities, water level responsibilities, St. Lawrence Seaway, water diversions,
etc.

        Binational responsibilities (Cincinnati lacks an international airport 
and is not easily accessible to Canadian counterparts) and treaty obligations - 
IJC Secretariat is located in the Chicago regional office, Water level control 
boards, water level monitoring, St. Lawrence Seaway related issues, - these are 
especially critical now, given the upcoming need to address water diversion 
issues.

        Need to coordinate with other Federal agencies - the Great Lakes are 
unique in the degree to which the Corps is required to act in coordination with 
other Federal agencies (EPA, FWS, NOAA, etc).  Most of these agencies have 
offices in Chicago or an easy drive from Chicago (e.g., MI lower peninsula).

        Environmental role - The NCD (Chicago, prior to restructuring) was the 
national leader among Corps' regions in developing environmental projects.  
Already under the dual headquarters system we are seeing a real erosion of these
capabilities and of the resources committed to these types of efforts.  

        Loss of institutional memory - again, under the dual headquarters 
system, we have already seen some serious losses to senior staff (e.g., we have 
no coastal engineer in the region).  This will only accelerate if all decisions 
come from outside the Great Lakes basin (i.e., from Cincinnati).

     

     
     Rochelle Sturtevant
     Coordinator, Senate Great Lakes Task Force
     459 Russell Senate Building
     Washington, DC 20510
     Rochelle_Sturtevant@levin.senate.gov
     
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