The Northeast-Midwest Congressional Coalition
Great Lakes Task Force
GREAT LAKES LAWMAKERS RELEASE
GAO STUDY ON GREAT LAKES RESTORATION
Thirteen House and Senate members of the Great Lakes Task Force today released a GAO report, "GREAT LAKES– An Overall Strategy and Indicators for Measuring Progress Are Needed to Better Achieve Restoration Goals" (GAO-03-515), which is available at http://www.gao.gov. The members who requested the study in 2001, include Senators Carl Levin (MI), Mike DeWine (OH), Evan Bayh (IN), Debbie Stabenow (MI), and Representatives John Dingell (MI), Vernon Ehlers (MI), James Oberstar (MN), Steven LaTourette (OH), Bart Stupak (MI), Louise Slaughter (NY), Marcy Kaptur (OH), Sherwood Boehlert (NY), and Sherrod Brown (OH).
GAO recommends greater coordination on a long-term environmental restoration and recovery strategy among the federal agencies, Great Lakes governors, and other stakeholders. Additionally, GAO recommends that EPA develop environmental indicators and monitoring system for the Great Lakes Basin that can be used to measure overall restoration progress and in making decisions on the merits of restoration projects.
The GAO inventoried all of the federal and state programs operating in the Great Lakes. While the majority of the programs were national or state-wide in scope, there are 33 federal Great Lakes-specific programs and 17 state funded Great Lakes-specific programs funding environmental restoration activities in the Great Lakes Basin. There are additional local and non-governmental efforts operating in the lakes. Funding for the federal programs over the past 10 years totaled $745 million, and funding for the state programs in that same time period totaled $956 million.
“Restoration of the Great Lakes Basin is a major endeavor involving many environmental programs and organizations. The magnitude of this effort cannot succeed without a comprehensive strategy or plan. . . .” Several organizations and agencies developed strategies to address either basin-wide or specific problems, however, the GAO concluded that there is no coordinated or unified strategy to restore the Great Lakes. Further, GAO reported despite some improvements to the lakes, the Great Lakes ecosystem remains compromised, and based on the information and data available, GAO was not able to assess restoration progress.
Contact: Joy Mulinex (202/224-1211).