Welcome to one of the Great Lakes region's first environmental issues blogs. The North American Great Lakes contain 18% of the world's available surface freshwater and are a source of beauty, spiritual renewal and livelihood. Keep track of Great Lakes news and comment or disagree politely to frequent posts.
As the Post-Tribune says, somebody needs to explain why an uncovered toxic pile is sitting near Lake Michigan, and what's going to be done to prevent it from causing a problem for the lake and environs. We keep hearing the Great Lakes states professing their commitment to Great Lakes restoration and clamoring for federal funds to carry it out -- and we keep hearing them ducking questions about why they're doing things that may require further restoration in the future. It's like moving piles around rather than cleaning them up.
Friday's much publicized revelation of DNA traces of Asian carp on the wrong side of the electric barrier designed to keep them out of Lake Michigan is not just appalling on its face, but raises a question that needs soon to be faced: how can we restore the Great Lakes when the government agencies that are supposed to protect them are dysfunctionally uncoordinated, turf-protective and blundering (for all their virtues)?
Everyone gets upset about the latest manifestation of the problem -- carp this time -- but no one gets excited about the fact that a dozen or more federal agencies, regional commissions, and states are all competing for dollars and influence more than they are cooperating on behalf of the Great Lakes. The appointment of a federal Great Lakes coordinator (misleadingly dubbed 'czar' by the media despite his lack of supervisory authority) is a small start. But it's time to begin anew Great Lakes restoration by streamlining the Great Lakes bureaucracies to reduce fat and duplication and through a Presidential executive order that makes it clear who is in charge when it comes to both Great Lakes emegencies and long-range restoration.
Those following the merger of the DNR and DEQ in Michigan may know that the reorganization's architects are proposing to anchor the new agency in centers of excellence, despite budgets of mediocrity. Not surprisingly, some employees and other observers are a bit skeptical.
More on the downstream suggestions of Asian carp one bus stop before the big lake.
The idea that the carp will get into Lake Michigan “is not a foregone
conclusion,” said Cameron Davis, Great Lakes adviser to the
Environmental Protection Agency. “This DNA evidence is the best we
have, and we believe it’s very accurate. But what we have not done is
to find an actual carp body in these areas where sampling is telling us
their genetic material may be. We still have not seen an actual carp
"What a joke!" muttered one attendee who didn't get an answer at a public meeting last night to questions about a pile of waste, some ingredients of it toxic, sitting near Lake Michigan. Another great job by Post-Tribune reporter Gitte Laasby, underrated and underappreciated as she and her newspaper are for digging on this and other environmental issues.
The Great Lakes Compact that became law about a year ago sets standards for the states to decide on proposed new or expanded water diversions. But a 1986 law giving any governor the right to block such a proposal apparently remains on the books. Given that a more specific, more recent law is typically given greater weight, does the veto still exist or not?