VOINOVICH BILL TO PROTECT AND PRESERVE GREAT LAKES PASSES EPW COMMITTEE Legislation holding federal government accountable for polluted storm water runoff from federal properties also advances to Senate floor
PoliticalNews.me - Jul 02,2010 - (From PoliticalNews.me)
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator George V. Voinovich (R-Ohio), co-chair of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force and a senior member of the Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), announced that his Great Lakes Ecosystem Protection Act – a bill to protect and preserve the Great Lakes for future generations – was passed out of the EPW Committee by voice vote. U.S. Senator Carl Levin (D-Mich), co-chair of the Senate Great Lakes Task force, is an original co-sponsor of this bill.
“Today’s EPW passage of the Great Lakes Ecosystem Protection Act is a continuation of my decades-long legacy of protecting the Great Lakes one of our national treasures,” Sen. Voinovich said. “I thank my colleagues for their work thus far and am thrilled to continue the coordination of this legislation as it moves forward. This legislation will ensure the vital resources necessary to protect and preserve the Great Lakes for future generations – it will also establish the advisory capacity necessary for federal agencies, local governments and others to come together to share ideas and guidance and to prioritize funding needs.”
The bill would authorize more than $500 million in funding for new and existing programs to protect and restore the Great Lakes. The bill would also streamline various advisory committees and task forces to improve the efficiency of the efforts.
The Great Lakes Ecosystem Protection Act would:
* Authorize the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, an interagency effort led by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which President Obama proposed in 2009;
* Create two advisory groups reporting to EPA, including federal agencies, states, tribes, local government leaders and observers;
* Authorize the Federal Great Lakes Interagency Task Force, created in 2004 by Executive Order, to allow federal agencies to continue to coordinate efforts;
* Reauthorize the Great Lakes National Programs Office for five years. This office would be housed within the EPA and be the central point of contact for all Great Lakes issues; and
* Reauthorize the Great Lakes Legacy Program, which has successfully removed contaminated sediment from Areas of Concern around the United States for five years. Almost 800,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediments have been removed since the program was created. Nearly 500,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment has been eliminated so far in the Ashtabula River and similar processes have begun for the Ottawa and Maumee Rivers.
In addition to the Great Lakes Ecosystem Protection Act, Sen. Voinovich is a co-sponsor of legislation authored by Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.) which also passed the EPW Committee today. The bill would require the federal government to pay localities, such as Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati, for polluted storm water runoff from federal properties. Storm water runoff is the largest source of pollution for many imperiled bodies of water, including Lake Erie, across the country. Both pieces of legislation now move to the floor for consideration by the full Senate.
As a member of the Ohio House of Representatives, George Voinovich led a successful legislative effort