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                                                       Calendar No. 618
109th Congress                                                   Report
                                 SENATE
 2d Session                                                     109-338

======================================================================



 
                 GREAT LAKES COORDINATION AND OVERSIGHT
                              ACT OF 2006

                                _______
                                

               September 20, 2006.--Ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

    Mr. Inhofe, from the Committee on Environment and Public Works, 
                        submitted the following

                                 REPORT

                         [to accompany S. 2912]

    The Committee on Environment and Public Works, to which was 
referred a bill (S. 2912) to establish the Great Lakes 
Interagency Task Force, to establish the Great Lakes Regional 
Collaboration, and for other purposes, having considered the 
same, reports favorably thereon and recommends that the bill, 
as amended, do pass.

                    General Statement and Background

    Congress has enacted over 30 Federal laws specifically 
focused on restoring aspects of the Great Lakes Basin. There 
are currently nearly 200 programs that provide funding and 
resources to the Basin for restoration of the Great Lakes.
    In 2003, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) 
released a report that identified several concerns with the 
restoration effort in the Great Lakes.\1\ First, the GAO found 
that while EPA administers most of the Federal dollars, there 
was no one organization in charge of coordinating the overall 
effort. The EPA's Great Lakes National Program Office had been 
charged with coordinating the restoration effort in the 1987 
amendment to the Clean Water Act but had not done so. Second, 
the GAO noted the need for a comprehensive strategy or plan to 
clearly articulate goals, objectives and criteria for measuring 
success. The GAO also cited the need for one decisionmaking 
body to prioritize funding and weigh the merits of each project 
as well as additional monitoring and data on the health of the 
Lakes. Finally, the GAO cited a lack of funding as one of the 
reasons extensive restoration activity had not occurred. 
However, in its report to the President, the Great Lakes 
Interagency Task Force noted that in fiscal year 2004, 
according to the data presented in this report, the Federal 
Government alone spent over $500 million on Great Lakes Basin 
restoration projects and over the course of the next 10 years, 
anticipates spending $5 billion.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \1\Government Accountability Office. An Overall Strategy and 
Indicators for Measuring Progress Are Needed to Better Achieve 
Restoration Goals. 2003.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    In 2004, President George W. Bush signed Executive Order 
13340 creating the Great Lakes Interagency Task Force\2\ to 
``increase and improve collaboration and integration among the 
more than 140 Federal programs that help fund and implement 
environmental restoration and management activities throughout 
the Great Lakes system. It was also designed to help ensure 
that these programs are funding effective, coordinated, and 
environmentally sound activities.''\3\ The Task Force is 
chaired by the Administrator of the U.S. EPA and contains 10 
agency and cabinet-level officers. The Task Force, in 
collaboration with the Council of Great Lakes Governors, the 
Great Lakes Cities Initiative, Great Lakes tribes, and the 
Great Lakes congressional delegation, initiated a process 
called the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration as called for 
under the Executive Order. The Collaboration includes the EPA-
led Federal agency task force; and representatives from Great 
Lakes States, local communities, tribes, non-governmental 
organizations, and other interests in the Great Lakes region.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \2\E.O. 12240, May 18, 2004.
    \3\Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. Testimony of 
Stephen Johnson. Hearing on ``Great Lakes Regional Callaboration's 
Strategy to Restore and Protect the Great Lakes. March 16, 2006.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The first goal of the Collaboration was to create a 
workable strategy to restore and protect the Great Lakes within 
1 year of the creation of the Task Force.\4\ This strategy, 
known as the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy, was 
released as a draft for public comment in July 2005 and 
finalized in December 2005. While the Collaboration outlined 
broad goals for the restoration of the Great Lakes, it did not 
consistently identify priorities including which activities 
would be carried out at which level of government.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \4\For more information, see [http://www.epa.gov/glnpo/
collaboration/index.html], accessed Mar. 9, 2006.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The Collaboration partners continue to serve as a broad 
forum to address regional Great Lakes issues.
Need for legislation
    To provide a framework for the continued operation of the 
Task Force and to ensure better communication and coordination 
at each level of government and with community organizations in 
order to ensure that all resources are used as efficiently and 
effectively as possible.

                      Section-by-Section Analysis

Sec. 1. Short title
    This section provides that the Act may be cited as the 
``Great Lakes Coordination and Oversight Act of 2006''.
Sec. 2. Definitions
    This section sets out definitions for the bill.
Sec. 3. Great Lakes Interagency Task Force

                                SUMMARY

    Outlines additional responsibilities beyond those described 
in the Executive Order for the Great Lakes Interagency Task 
Force including:
       Ensuring that implementation of programs and 
projects under their authority is coordinated, effective, and 
cost-efficient.
       Submit to Congress a biennial report that 
describes the projects and activities carried out by the 
Collaboration that describes any actions that Federal agencies 
can take to address the restoration goals, any Federal 
expenditures and the amount of non-Federal funding leveraged by 
those Federal expenditures and the indicators and monitoring 
used to determine whether the goals will be met.
       Establish a regular communication with the 
Council of Great Lakes Governors, the Great Lakes and St. 
Lawrence Cities Initiative and a representative of the Great 
Lakes Tribes for the exchange of information and 
recommendations for action.
       Coordinates the activities of the Task Force 
with the activities of the Lake Champlain Basin Program.

                               DISCUSSION

    Section 3 will ensure that the Task Force fulfills its 
mission of ensuring Federal Great Lakes programs are 
coordinated, effective and cost-effective. By requiring regular 
communication with the Great Lakes Governors, the Great Lakes 
and St. Lawrence Cities as well as the Great Lakes Tribes, this 
section ensures information and recommendations are exchanged 
on a regular basis and that the Federal partners know what 
actions are being taken by the State, local and tribal 
partners. This level of communication is critical to the 
success of Federal programs and the health of the Lakes. The 
Task Force is also required to account for its activities in a 
biennial report to Congress detailing actions taken by the 
Collaboration as well as any actions the Agencies can take to 
address the restoration goals, as well as Federal expenditures 
and the amount of non-Federal funds leveraged from those funds. 
The report will also describe the indicators and monitoring 
used to determine whether goals were met. Finally, Section 3 
requires the Task Force to coordinate its activities with those 
of the Lake Champlain Basin Program. The Great Lakes and the 
Basin are connected through the St. Lawrence Seaway.
Sec. 4. Great Lakes Regional Collaboration

                                SUMMARY

    Outlines the makeup and responsibilities of the 
Collaboration, the Executive Committee, and Subcommittees.
    The Collaboration:
       Make up: the members of the Executive Committee 
and each other individual and entity that notifies the 
Executive Committee in writing of their desire to participate 
in the Collaboration and there will be balanced representation 
on the Collaboration of interested stakeholder groups including 
industry, property owners, recreational fisheries, recreational 
boaters and environmental interests.
       Duties: every 3 years they will draft a strategy 
using the best available science to describe the health of the 
Great Lakes and identify restoration goals.
    The Executive Committee:
       Make up: the Chairperson of the Task Force, a 
representative of the Council of Great Lakes Governors, a 
representative of the Great Lakes and Saint Lawrence Cities 
Initiative, and a designated representative of the Great Lakes 
Tribes.
       Duties: establish a process for communication 
with members of the Collaboration; work with the members of the 
Collaboration to develop a Strategy for the restoration of the 
Great Lakes as required in section, upon completion of the 
Strategy, categorize goals to be achieved in both the short-
term and long-term and identify which level of government is 
best able to achieve each goal, hold semiannual public meetings 
to discuss Great Lakes restoration goals and implementation 
progress, receive input and consider recommendations from 
interested parties, including nongovernmental organizations, 
industry, and academia, with respect to the proposed goals, and 
ensure there is balanced representation in the Collaboration of 
industrial, environmental, recreational boating, recreational 
fishing, citizen, and municipal stakeholder groups and ensure 
that the strategy developed by the Collaboration is coordinated 
with the activities of the Lake Champlain Basin Program.
       Submit to the Congress and the Task Force a 
biennial report that includes: an analysis of progress in 
carrying out restoration of the Great Lakes; an analysis of 
progress in meeting the goals and the recommendations in the 
strategy developed by the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration 
and under this Act; and contributions made to the effort by 
Great Lakes States and municipal partners.
    Subcommittees:
       The members of the Executive Committee may 
designate representatives to work as 1 or more subcommittees to 
provide staff support and otherwise assist in carrying out 
responsibilities of the Executive Committee relating to the 
Collaboration.

                               DISCUSSION

    Section 4 will help address GAO's concerns about the lack 
of coordination of the overall restoration effort. Carefully 
laying out the duties that the Executive Committee and the 
Collaboration must undertake, such as hold semiannual public 
meetings to discuss Great Lakes restoration goals and 
implementation progress, receive input and consider 
recommendations from interested parties, including 
nongovernmental organizations, industry, and academia, with 
respect to the proposed goals, and ensure there is balanced 
representation in the Collaboration of stakeholder groups, will 
facilitate and coordinate the decisionmaking process. 
Currently, members of the Collaboration include anyone who 
expressed an interest in joining the Collaboration. However, 
given the responsibilities assigned to the Collaboration, the 
committee was concerned that all interested stakeholders be 
assured an equal voice during future discussions and therefore, 
the Executive Committee must ensure balanced representation. By 
revisiting the strategy every 3 years, the Executive Committee 
will be able to utilize the most current information available 
and will be able to make changes to the strategy to meet new 
challenges and outline realistic achievable goals reflective of 
new data and cost limitations. This will allow Federal, State 
and local funds to be used in a more efficient and effective 
way.
Sec. 5. Efficiency evaluations of committees and offices

                                SUMMARY

    The Environmental Protection Agency shall review existing 
committees and offices that have oversight of Great Lakes 
programs to identify overlap of functions and suggest means by 
which committees or offices can be streamlined or combined.

                               DISCUSSION

    Section 5 directs the Environmental Protection Agency to 
identify programs over which it has jurisdiction to ensure that 
duties are not being replicated and that any program gaps are 
readily identified.

                          Legislative History

    On August 5, 2002, the Environment and Public Works 
Committee held a Field Hearing in Cleveland, OH on Lake Erie's 
dead zone. On August 25, 2003, the committee held a field 
hearing in Cleveland, Ohio to examine the current and future 
efforts to restore and protect the Great Lakes. On March 16, 
2006 the committee held another hearing to examine the Great 
Lakes Regional Collaboration's Strategy to Restore and Protect 
the Great Lakes.
    On May 19, 2006, Senator DeWine introduced S. 2912, which 
was cosponsored by Senators Feingold, Stabenow, Levin, and 
Voinovich. The bill was read twice and referred to the 
Committee on Environment and Public Works. The committee met on 
May 23, 2006, to consider the bill. An amendment offered by 
Senator Inhofe to make a technical correction to the bill was 
passed by unanimous consent. S. 2912 was ordered favorably 
reported, as amended, by voice vote.

                                Hearings

    No committee hearings were held on S. 2912.

                             Rollcall Votes

    The Committee on Environment and Public Works met to 
consider S. 2912 on May 23, 2006. An amendment offered by 
Senator Inhofe was approved by unanimous consent. The bill was 
ordered favorably reported by voice vote. No rollcall votes 
were taken.

                      Regulatory Impact Statement

    In compliance with Section 11(b) of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, the committee finds that S. 2912 
would not create any additional regulatory burdens, nor will it 
cause any adverse impact on the personal privacy of 
individuals.

                          Mandates Assessment

    In compliance with the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 
(Public Law 104-4), the committee finds that S. 2912 would not 
impose Federal intergovernmental unfunded mandates on State, 
local or tribal governments.

                          Cost of Legislation

S. 2912, Great Lakes Coordination and Oversight Act of 2006, as ordered 
        reported by the Senate Committee on Environment and Public 
        Works on May 23, 2006
    S. 2912 would establish, by statute, the Great Lakes 
Interagency Task Force within the Environmental Protection 
Agency (EPA) and the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration. Both 
groups have already been established by executive order, and 
according to EPA, are already operating. While enacting this 
legislation would require the groups to participate in some 
additional meetings and provide additional reports, CBO 
estimates that these additional requirements would have no 
significant budgetary impact. Enacting this legislation would 
not affect direct spending or receipts.
    In 2004, the Great Lakes Interagency Task Force was created 
by executive order to provide strategic direction on Federal 
policy for the Great Lakes region. The task force, in 
collaboration with the other related groups, convened a group 
called the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration. In 2005, that 
organization developed a strategy for restoring and protecting 
the Great Lakes.
    S. 2912 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and 
would impose no costs on State, local, or tribal governments. 
Any of those governments that choose to participate in the 
regional collaboration would do so voluntarily.
    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Susanne S. 
Mehlman. This estimate was approved by Robert A. Sunshine, 
Assistant Director for Budget Analysis.

                        Changes in Existing Law

    Section 12 of rule XXVI of the Standing Rules of the Senate 
require the committee to publish changes in existing law made 
by the bill as reported. Passage of the bill will make no 
changes to existing law.