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Calendar No. 618
109th Congress Report
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
[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.
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
Outlines additional responsibilities beyond those described
in the Executive Order for the Great Lakes Interagency Task
Ensuring that implementation of programs and
projects under their authority is coordinated, effective, and
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.
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
Outlines the makeup and responsibilities of the
Collaboration, the Executive Committee, and Subcommittees.
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
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.
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
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
Sec. 5. Efficiency evaluations of committees and offices
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.
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
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.
No committee hearings were held on S. 2912.
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
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
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.