MADISON – With Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle testifying today at the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the Great Lakes Compact, Wisconsin State Senator Bob Jauch – who represents the entire Wisconsin shoreline of Lake Superior and helped craft the legislation – praised Governor Doyle’s work on the issue, but said Wisconsin also needs a President who will fight to preserve the Great Lakes. While both candidates have vocalized support for the bill, only U.S. Senator Barack Obama has backed up his words with a consistent record of support for Great Lakes preservation.
“Governor Doyle, Senator Feingold, and so many of our dedicated public servants have worked tirelessly to preserve the Great Lakes, and for that, the people of Wisconsin owe them our thanks,” Senator Jauch said. “But to truly ensure the preservation of the Great Lakes, we also need a steadfast ally in the White House. Barack Obama will be that ally.”
U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) presided over today’s hearing on the interstate compact. If passed by Congress, the bill would promote water conservation and prevent waters from being diverted to different regions – threats that have already caused damage to the Great Lakes.
Barack Obama has been a consistent advocate for preservation of the Great Lakes region, including co-sponsoring two bills to help prevent the spread of invasive species. In contrast, Senator John McCain has repeatedly opposed measures to preserve the Great Lakes, including cleanup initiatives and projects to prevent sediment pollution. In addition, McCain’s newfound support of offshore drilling for natural gas raises questions about whether the Great Lakes would be exposed to irreparable damage.
“It’s not enough for Senator McCain to say he supports the Great Lakes as a candidate, when his public record doesn’t match those words,” Senator Jauch said. “Time and again, John McCain’s record has been harmful to the Great Lakes, rather than voting to prevent pollution and ecological damage. His record certainly suggests that he was not looking out for the good of the region until he was a candidate and that the Great Lakes would not be a priority for him as President.”
BACKGROUND ON SENATOR MCCAIN’S INCONSISTENT RECORD OF SUPPORT FOR GREAT LAKES PRESERVATION:
MCCAIN OPPOSED IMPORTANT GREAT LAKES PROJECTS
McCain Opposed Legislation That Included Funding To Prevent Invasive Specie s In The Great Lakes
2007: McCain Strongly Opposed The WRDA of 2007. “Mr. President, I would like to express my strong opposition to the Conference Report on the Water Resources Development Act of 2007.” [Senator John McCain Press Release on the WRDA Conference Report, 9/24/07]
2007: The WRDA Provided Funding To Complete The Asian Carp Barrier Project To Prevent Invasive Species From Reaching The Great Lakes. A press release from Sen. Durbin’s office stated: “The United States Senate today approved the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA). The bill includes a provision authored by U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) that will authorize the use of federal funds to allow the Army Corps of Engineers to complete the Asian Carp Barrier project. This barrier will prevent the spread of invasive species, including Asian Carp, between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Basins through the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. “The Asian Carp t hreatens both the native fish and natural wildlife of the lake and in turn, the economy of the entire Great Lakes region,” said Durbin. “Currently, this invasive species threatens a $4.1 billion sport and commercial fishing industry in the Great Lakes. The bill passed today recognizes the threat of the Asian Carp by authorizing the permanent operation of the barrier system to prevent these harmful fish from entering the waters of the Great Lakes.”” [HR 1495, PL 110-114, Vote 406, Passed 79-14,11/8/07, Sen. Dick Durbin Press Release, 5/16/07]
2006: Obama And Durbin Successfully Secured Funding For Temporary Barriers To Prevent Entry Of Invasive Species. A press release from Sen. Dick Durbin stated: “In June 2006, Durbin and Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) worked to successfully secure $400,000 to operate the barriers that prevent invasive species from entering the Great Lakes. Twenty-eight other Great Lakes House Members joined Congresswoman Judy Biggert (R-IL) in sending a letter to House appropriators in support of this effort. The funding was included to pay for the operation of Barrier I, a temporary barrier that keeps the invasive species out of the Illinois River and Lake Michigan by emitting an ele ctric current that deters the carp from passing through.” [Sen. Dick Durbin Press Release, 5/16/07]
Obama Cosponsored Two Bills That Would Have Made The Invasive Species Barrier In the Great Lakes Permanent. Requires the Assistant Sec retary of the Army (Civil Works) to upgrade and make permanent the existing Chicago sanitary and ship canal dispersal barrier in Chicago, Illinois, constructed as a demonstration project to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species in U.S. waterways. Directs the Secretary of the department in which the Coast Guard is operating to construct, at full Federal expense, the Chicago sanitary and ship canal dispersal barrier authorized by the Water Resources Development Act of 1986. [109th S. 770, introduced 4/13/05; 110th S. 791, introduced 3/7/2007]
McCain Opposed Great Lakes Cleanup
McCain Voted Against Great Lakes Cleanup Initiatives. In 1995, McCain voted for the GOP’s Regulatory Reform bill (S 343), which would have delayed efforts to clean up the Great Lakes by requiring rigid risk assessment and cost benefit analysis, and by giving the poll uting industries unlimited opportunities to delay the implementation of rules that meet those tests through petitions for review and litigation. Polluting industries would also have been able to have their own scientists on the peer review panels that must approve the regulations. [S 343, Vote 311, 7/18/95; S 343, Vote 315, 7/20/95]
Obama Cosponsored A Bill To Clean Up Contaminated Expanses And Aid Habitat Restoration In The Great Lakes. A press release from Sen. Levin reported: “Senator Carl Levin, D-Mich., and Senator George Voinovich, R-Ohio, co-chairmen of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force, today introduced the bipartisan Great Lakes Legacy Act of 2008 to expand on legislation passed six years ago. The bill aims to clean up contaminated expanses in the Great Lakes known as “Areas of Concern” within 10 years…The Great Lakes Legacy Act of 2008 focuses on Areas of Concern in the Gre at Lakes. Forty-three Areas of Concern have been identified in the Great Lakes, 13 of which are in Michigan and four in Ohio. These sites do not meet the water quality goals established by the United States and Canada in the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, mainly because of contaminated sediments from historic industrial activity. This contamination results in several detrimental consequences including fish advisories, degradation of fish and wildlife populations, taste and odor problems with drinking water, beach closures, and bird and animal deformities or reproductive problems. The Great Lakes Legacy Act of 2008 would authorize $150 million annually for clean up of the Areas of Concern within 10 years. The legislation gives the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) greater flexibility to manage funds by allowing the EPA to distribute funds directly to contractors and would provide relief to states from burdensome requirements. Under this bill, eligible projects would be expanded to include habitat restoration.” [110th S. 2994, introduced 5/8/08; Sen. Levin Press Release, 5/8/08]
McCain Opposed Prevention Of Sediment Pollution In The Great Lakes
McCain Opposed, Obama Supported Projects To Prevent Sediment Pollution In The Great Lakes Which Threatens Vegetation, Wildlife And Makes Water Treatment More Expensive. A press release from the Great Lakes Commission stated: “The Great Lakes Basin Program – which gained renewed support in the Farm Bill – is administered by the Great Lakes Commission, with funding provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service. The Basin Program supports improved erosion and sediment control and sound landuse practices through demonstration grants, technical assistance and information/education projects. Grant recipients include conservation districts and other nonfederal units of government, nonprofit organizations and academic institutions in all eight states of the Great Lakes basin. Over the past 17 years, the Basin Program has supported nearly 400 projects and invested almost $12 million in water quality improvement efforts. These projects have prevented an estimated 250,000 tons of sediment and 900,000 pounds of phosphorus from entering the Great Lakes and tributaries. Sediment pollution covers spawning beds, suffocates aquatic vegetation habitat, and increases the cost of treating potable water and maintaining drainage infrastructure. Phosphorus pollution can lead to excess growth of plants and algae and rob lakes and river s of oxygen.” [Great Lakes Commission Press Release, 5/28/08; 110th HR 2419, Passed 79-14: R 37-11; D 40-3 (ND 36-3, SD 4-0); I 2-0]
McCain Opposed Projects To Support Great Lakes Commerce
McCain Opposed Important Projects To Relieve The Dredging Backlog In The Great Lakes Waterway Which Is Necessary For Hundreds Of Millions Of Transported Goods. A press release regarding the Water Resources Development Act of 2008 from Sen. Levin stated: “Great Lakes Navigation and Protection Directs the Army Corps to expedite the operation and maintenance, including dredging, of the Great Lakes commercial navigation channels and infrastructure. This provision aims to address the very serious dredging backlog in the Great Lakes, which has been exacerbated by historic low water levels. The backlog has resulted in ships having to carry reduced loads, freighters getting stuck in channels, and some shipments that have ceased altogether. Every year, hundreds of millions of tons of goods are transported through the Great Lakes waterways, and communities throughout the Great Lakes are economically ti ed to waterborne commerce. Dredging to the needed depths and maintaining other navigational features of the system are critical. Also directs the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, in coordination with the Corps and other federal agencies, to carry out a pilot project to control and prevent further spreading of viral hemorrhagic septicemia in the Great Lakes.” [HR 1495, PL 110-114, Vote 406, Passed 79-14,11/8/07; Sen. Levin Press Release, 11/08/07]