Today is Great Lakes Day, and a time to reflect on how unique the Great Lakes region is. 21% of the Earth’s available fresh surface water is on our doorstep. The lakes are beautiful and provide enjoyable opportunities from fishing, swimming, enjoying a beach and watching sunrise and sunsets over the inland seas. Yet for all the bounty the Great Lakes' 6 quadrillion gallons contain, thousands of households do not have access to safe and affordable drinking water.
On November 13th, after 15 months of reviewing violations of Enbridge’s 1953 easement to operate Line 5, Governor Whitmer and the Department of Natural Resources revoked and terminated the 1953 easement allowing Line 5 to operate in the Straits of Mackinac. This was a huge victory, and is something that Clean Water Action and our allies have been demanding and working towards for years. We are celebrating this victory, but the fight to decommission Line 5 continues. Here are the most relevant moving pieces and next steps.
Minnesotans Meet with Congressional Delegation to Prioritize Great Lakes Protection and Drinking Water
Clean Water Action Minnesota was in DC to talk about and support the GLRI Act of 2019 and advocated for significantly increasing federal funding for clean water and safe drinking water programs. The GLRI Act would provide stability for Great Lakes funding for at least five years, provide secure and stable funding, and will encourage more state and local governments, as well as private businesses, to invest in protection and restoration across the Great Lakes basin.
Forty-five years ago, Lake Erie was so polluted that TIME Magazine stated it was, “in danger of dying by suffocation.” Although there was a massive clean-up effort on the local, state, and federal level, Lake Erie once again experienced the largest harmful algal bloom in recorded history in 2011, with a peak intensity over three times greater than any previously observed bloom.
In March, we led a group of eight Minnesotans to Washington, D.C. for Great Lakes Day to continue our education and advocacy with the Minnesota Congressional delegation. We were joined by nearly 100 other advocates from around the Great Lakes region who were meeting with their representatives from Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York.
Our team met with Senator Franken, Senator Klobuchar, and Representative Rick Nolan in person, and with staff from the offices of Representatives Kline, McCollum, Paulsen, Peterson, and Walz.