2017-03-09 / Columns

Great Lakes States Need Political Clout

Michigan Politics
By George Weeks

There’s an urgent need for Michigan and other Great Lakes states congressional delegations to use whatever clout they can muster to get the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to stop stalling on two vital projects for the region.

One is the long need, often cited here, to build a new lock at Sault Ste. Marie as a backup for the vulnerable Poe Lock which, if it fails, there would be nationwide economic implications. The feds have long delayed action.

More recently is the federal delay by the Trump administration in releasing a draft plan to combat Asian carp from invading the Great Lakes Basin.

Michigan Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow, referring to a plan which had been expected to be released Tuesday, said: “It’s extremely alarming that it appears the Trump administration has decided to delay the release of today’s plan, which is a critical part of our efforts to stop Asian carp and other invasive species from reaching our Great Lakes.

“After a lengthy review process, which included extensive outreach and collaboration with a broad range of stakeholders, it appears that the Administration has decided to side with a narrow group of special interests intent on preventing actions to address the movement of Asian carp toward Lake Michigan.”

Stabenow, a former state legislator and now Michigan’s senior senator, has been a champion on Great Lakes issues as have Democratic junior Senator Gary Peters, another former state legislator, and Republican Governor Rick Snyder, a former businessman who has spurred fellow governors to address Great Lakes issues.

More bad news: The Detroit Free Press said Friday it “has learned that a drastic reduction” is contemplated in the federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

Stabenow said: “It is outrageous that just days after delaying a critical plan to stop Asian carp, it appears that President Trump’s budget is calling on a 97% cut in funding for the bipartisan Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.”

The cuts also included such waters as San Francisco Bay, Puget Sound, and Chesapeake Bay.

George Weeks, a member of the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame, for 22 years was political columnist for The Detroit News and previously with UPI as Lansing bureau chief and foreign editor in Washington. His weekly Michigan Politics column is syndicated by Superior Features.

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