Tuesday, May 5, 2009

EW's Person's of the Month.

This month we salute,
Senator Carl Levin, D-Mich, and Senator George Voinovich, R-Ohio


WASHINGTON – Senator Carl Levin, D-Mich., and Senator George Voinovich, R-Ohio, co-chairmen of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force, today introduced the bipartisan Great Lakes Legacy Act of 2009, which would increase by threefold the level of funding for cleanup of contaminated sediments in the Great Lakes. The legislation would also increase funding for research into new technologies for sediment cleanup.
“Meeting the challenge of stewardship of the Great Lakes requires concerted and continuing action,” Levin said. “While we’ve made progress on cleaning up the contaminated sites in the lakes, much work remains. This legislation will bring us closer to our goal of restoration and protection of the lakes for future generations of Americans.”
“Protecting and restoring the Great Lakes has been a top priority of mine throughout my political career,” Sen. Voinovich said. “As co-chair of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force, I am focused on working with the Great Lakes delegation to advance restoration efforts in this critical region. This bill will provide the Environmental Protection Agency with the tools and resources to remove contaminated sediment and cleanup Ohio’s Areas of Concern which include the Maumee, Black, Cuyahoga and Ashtabula Rivers. The Legacy program is a vital piece of a comprehensive strategy that is absolutely necessary to protect the Great Lakes for generations to come.”
The Great Lakes Legacy Act of 2009 would increase the authorized funding for cleanup of contaminated sediments from $50 million per year to $150 million per year for five years. The act would also increase the authorized funding level for research on new technologies for sediment cleanup from $3 million per year to $5 million per year.
In 2005, the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy Report recommended the increased funding based on the widespread need for additional cleanup in the Great Lakes in the Areas of Concern. In that report, participants calculated that $150 million per year would be needed to clean up the contaminated sediments at the Areas of Concern within 10 years. Forty-three Areas of Concern have been identified in the Great Lakes, 13 of which are in Michigan and four in Ohio. These sites do not meet the water quality goals established by the United States and Canada in the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, mainly because of contaminated sediments from historic industrial activity. This contamination results in several detrimental consequences including fish advisories, degradation of fish and wildlife populations, taste and odor problems with drinking water, beach closures, and bird and animal deformities or reproductive problems.
The Great Lakes Legacy Act of 2002 contributed significantly to the effort to clean up Areas of Concern in the Great Lakes. Almost 800,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediments have been removed since the program was created in 2002. This material has been safely removed from riverbeds so that it no longer poses a threat to human health or the wildlife.

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