US EPA unveils plan to restore Great Lakes
By IBI Magazine
The US Environmental Protection Agency launched a plan to restore the Great Lakes. The five-year plan was unveiled by EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson at a meeting with governors from states bordering the Great Lakes.
"This action plan outlines our strategy to protect the environmental, human health and economic interests of the millions of people who rely on the Great Lakes," said Jackson. "We're committed to creating a new standard of care that will leave the Great Lakes better for the next generation."
The five Great Lakes are considered the world's largest body of fresh water. More than 30 million Americans get drinking water from the Great Lakes, and the lakes also support a multi-billion dollar economy based on fishing, boating and recreational activities.
But Jackson said the lakes face significant challenges, including pollution and the threat of harmful species. US President Barack Obama earlier committed to making Great Lakes restoration a national priority. In February 2009, Obama proposed US$475m for a Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. Jackson said it is the "most significant investment in the Great Lakes" in two decades.
The action plan was developed by 16 federal agencies. The five-year plan includes protection and cleanup of the most polluted areas in the lakes, combating invasive species like Asian Carp, protection of high priority watersheds and reduced runoff from urban and agricultural sources, and restoration of wetlands and other habitats.
The Asian Carp, which has been found in Lake Michigan, is considered by environmentalists one of the biggest threats to the Great Lakes eco-system. But it has also pitted boaters and fishermen against other boaters and commercial shipping interests because one proposed remedy is to shut down locks in Chicago that lead to the Mississippi River in order to cut off access to the Great Lakes.
The Obama Administration has proposed a compromise plan that has been criticised by many environmentalists and local fishermen as being ineffective to halting the spread of the Asian Carp. They argue that the fish, which consumes up to one-quarter of its body weight per day, would wipe out food sources for local fish.
(23 February 2010)