Friday, March 9, 2018

Representatives welcome EPA Action Plan to combat toxic algal blooms in Lake Erie.

By Editor & Publisher Jeff Brown.

According to a press release from the office of Debbie Dingell, U.S. Representatives Debbie Dingell (MI-12) and Marcy Kaptur (OH-09) issued the following statements today after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced an action plan to combat harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie. Dingell and Kaptur have repeatedlyurged EPA to take steps to manage excessive phosphorous, the root cause of toxic algal blooms, to protect human health and the environment.

“It is critical that EPA take action to protect the drinking water that 11 million people in Michigan and throughout the Great Lakes region rely upon,” said Dingell. “We have urged EPA to be more aggressive in combatting Lake Erie’s toxic algal blooms, and this action plan is a step in the right direction. However, we continue to believe that full remediation of Lake Erie requires an impairment designation by EPA. We will continue working with state and federal stakeholders to ensure communities have the resources needed to clean up these waters and protect the health of residents throughout the region.” This according to the March 7 press release.

"Though we welcome support from U.S. EPA to combat harmful algal blooms, this plan does not reflect the urgency or accountability we need in this fight," said Kaptur. "This first step must be followed by actions on the state and federal level to meet the plan’s reduction targets. Congress has provided one important tool for achieving these goals by funding the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. Even still, the Trump Administration plans to cut GLRI funding by 90 percent. We cannot settle for the U.S. EPA having its budget slashed and hands tied leaving the Great Lakes and the millions of Americans who rely on them for water and commerce in the lurch.”

According to Dingell's office, In November 2016, Dingell and Kaptur sent a letter to U.S. EPA urging them to list the waters of Lake Erie as officially impaired. Last May, EPA accepted both Ohio’s and Michigan’s assessments even though Michigan had designated the open waters of Lake Erie as impaired, while Ohio had refused to do so. The Representatives reiterated their call for EPA to disregard Ohio’s determination. U.S. EPA now considers the Ohio assessment to be “incomplete.” Read the full letter here.

Today’s plan from EPA outlines federal and state efforts to achieve the binational phosphorus reduction targets adopted by the United States and Canada in 2016 under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. Under the agreement, the U.S. committed to reduce phosphorus nutrient sources by 40 percent, according to Dingell's office.

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