LANSING — Michigan House Democrats introduced House Resolutions 156-161 this week to formally call on the federal government to adopt Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s recently unveiled Great Lakes 2020 Agenda and take meaningful action to protect the health, economy and ecology of Michigan and the Great Lakes region.
“It is impossible to downplay the vital economic importance of the Great Lakes Seaway and the Soo Locks as a trade corridor for iron ore, timber, grain and countless other supplies critical to our modern lives,” said state Rep. Sara Cambensy (D-Marquette). “Particularly in the Upper Peninsula, entire industries rely on the Great Lakes to move goods and resources throughout the region and around the world. To secure Michigan’s future economic success, we must work with federal agencies to support our ports, harbors and critical marine infrastructure to keep our state moving forward.”
Last week, state Rep. Leslie Love (D-Detroit) introduced HR 149 to recognize Sept. 7 as “Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Appreciation Day”, which was officially declared by Gov. Whitmer shortly thereafter. The Great Lakes account for 90 percent of the nation’s surface freshwater, directly support 1.5 million U.S. jobs and generate $62 billion in wages each year. However, ecological dangers caused by manmade pollutants, nutrient runoff and invasive species have threatened the long-term health and economic sustainability of Michigan’s waterways.
“The Great Lakes are more than just another of our state’s many natural resources; they are the center of our very identity as Michiganders,” said state Rep. Rachel Hood (D-Grand Rapids). “When future generations look back on this moment, they need to see that we had the courage to take the bold action necessary to preserve the same quality of life for them that we’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy.”
The six resolutions in the package reflect the core platforms of the Great Lakes 2020 Agenda. Those provisions call for:
- Immediate action to address PFAS contamination (HR 161: Rep. Jim Haadsma, D-Battle Creek).
- Larger investment in drinking water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure (HR 156: Rep. Sheldon Neeley, D-Flint).
- Greater funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (HR 157: Rep. Joe Tate, D-Detroit).
- Stronger support for ports, harbors and critical marine infrastructure in the Great Lakes region, including the Soo Locks reconstruction project (HR 160: Rep. Sara Cambensy).
- Better enforcement of strong ballast water rules and efforts at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam to prevent the introduction and spread of invasive species (HR 158: Rep. Rachel Hood).
- Improved federal assistance in reducing nutrient pollution in the western Lake Erie basin by 40 percent by 2025 (HR 159: Rep. Darrin Camilleri, D-Brownstown).
The Great Lakes 2020 Agenda represents a joint strategic initiative between the states of Michigan, Illinois, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.