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Great Lakes Governors Urge Presidential Candidates to Adopt Great Lakes 2020 Presidential Agenda

July 29, 2019   

Great Lakes Governors Urge Presidential Candidates to Adopt Great Lakes 2020 Presidential Agenda  

Great Lakes 2020 Presidential Agenda includes six significant policy proposals focused on protecting the ecology, economy and health of the Great Lakes

LANSING – Today, Governor Whitmer, along with a coalition of Great Lakes governors from Illinois, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin announced a Great Lakes 2020 Presidential Agenda, and encouraged all presidential candidates to adopt this strategic plan which combats the critical factors that are currently threatening our water and public health.  

"Preserving our Great Lakes, protecting public health and cleaning up drinking water is a top priority for our region. The health of our families, our economy, and 51 million jobs depend on our immediate action," said Whitmer. "This agenda requires bold action. We must partner with the federal government to ensure we're doing everything we can to protect our freshwater, which is why I'm encouraging all 2020 presidential candidates from both parties to sign on to this agenda. The shared priorities of the Great Lakes region should be the shared priorities of all Americans."     

The Great Lakes 2020 Presidential Agenda outlines six significant platforms that address the need to protect and preserve the ecology, economy, and health of the Great Lakes and the region's inland waterways. Those platforms include:

  • Addressing the extensive water infrastructure crisis that the Great Lakes region is facing by tripling the federal investment into the Clean and Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Funds to address our region’s $179 billion backlog in drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure so all of our residents have access to clean, safe, and affordable drinking water. 
  • Incrementally ramp up funding for Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to $475 million per year to boost the region’s work of increasing coastal resiliency, cleaning up toxic contamination, reducing runoff pollution, stopping invasive species, and restoring wetlands and other habitats.  
  • Support, fully fund, and expedite the plan to build new prevention measures at Brandon Road Lock and Dam and support strong ballast water rules for every Great Lakes vessel to help stop and control the introduction and spread of invasive species in the region. Aquatic invasive species can alter the basic functions of the Great Lakes and all waterways, disrupting fisheries, wildlife, and water supplies.  
  • Committing to assisting states in meeting their goals of reducing nutrient pollution in the Western Lake Erie basin by 40 percent by 2025 through federal funding, resources, and new technologies while continuing to monitor, report, and reduce nutrient pollution in the other Great Lakes and regional water bodies. Harmful algal outbreaks threaten our drinking water, economy, outdoor recreation, and fish and wildlife.  
  • Supporting federal funding for ports, harbors, and critical marine infrastructure including the Soo Locks reconstruction project at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. In addition to $52 million provided by the State of Michigan, $900 million is needed to modernize the Soo Locks and ensure they remain operational through reconstruction. A six-month unplanned closure at the Soo Locks would devastate the production of integrated steel, automobiles, and other heavy equipment throughout North America, decreasing U.S. gross domestic product by $1.3 trillion, costing the U.S. more than 11 million jobs. 
  • Push for increased federal action of both the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Defense to address PFAS contamination. Across the Great Lakes region, states are tackling the challenge of addressing toxic contaminants like PFAS chemicals. States are looking to the federal government for financial resources and leadership in establishing drinking water standards. 

“Too many children and families are exposed to unsafe drinking water. It’s unacceptable,” said Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers, who currently serves as Chair of the Great Lakes – St. Lawrence Governors and Premiers. “Everyone should be able to drink clean water from their tap, which is why I’m proud to stand with my colleagues in this effort to commit our nation’s leaders to strengthening our infrastructure, improving water quality, and protecting public health.” 

“Like the Great Lakes, the solutions to the challenges we face span borders. Every American shares an economic, environmental, and personal stake in protecting the Great Lakes St. Lawrence seaway,” said Minnesota Governor Tim Walz. “I am proud to sign onto an agenda that prioritizes the vitality of the Great Lakes region by investing in safe drinking water, funding critical infrastructure projects, and addressing the dangers of pollution and contamination." 

“My administration is pleased to join with our fellow Great Lakes states in calling on candidates for federal office to focus particular attention on protecting these precious shared resources and the infrastructure and regulations that ensure safe drinking water to our residents,“ said Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf. “Pennsylvania’s mileage on Lake Erie is among the most beautiful and unique areas in the commonwealth, an ecologically significant watershed and home to diverse wildlife, and the economic engine of Great Lakes trade and tourism is critical to the economy of the entire state.”

“The Great Lakes are a vital natural resource to our entire nation, and ensuring American families have access to clean drinking water and a safe waterway system that supports our economy should be a priority for our next president,” said Gov. JB Pritzker. “Investing in water infrastructure like the Brandon Road Lock and Dam as well as several other critical projects in the region will keep invasive species from harming our ecosystems and keep the Great Lakes region - and the entire United States of America - strong and thriving.” 

This past May, Governor Whitmer, Wisconsin Governor Evers, Pennsylvania Governor Wolf, Illinois Governor Pritzker expressed their opposition to a provision in President Trump’s FY2020 budget, which proposed a 90% cut to GLRI funding. Following that statement, President Trump reversed the proposed cuts. 

To view the Great Lakes 2020 Presidential Agenda, click the link below: