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.
“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.”
“Despite the pride we have in calling ourselves the Great Lakes State, failed leadership allowed dangerous manmade contaminants like PFAS to plague communities throughout our state for entirely too long,” said state Rep. Jim Haadsma (D-Battle Creek). “This is a challenge that state and federal officials must come together to tackle, and I’m hopeful that Michigan’s leadership on the issue will spur other states in the region to act, too.”
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.
“In my opinion, there is no issue so fundamental as ensuring every person in our state has access to clean, safe water, and this means investing in our water infrastructure and addressing the root cause of algal blooms in our Great Lakes,” said state Rep. Darrin Camilleri (D-Brownstown). “Years of unchecked nutrient runoff from fertilizers and other pollutants have led to record-setting algal blooms in western Lake Erie, and we need to take action to protect our greatest resource before it’s too late.”
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).
- 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, D-Marquette).
- 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).
The Great Lakes 2020 Agenda represents a joint strategic initiative between the states of Michigan, Illinois, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.