Portman Named Great Lakes Task Force Vice-Chair

June 26, 2014 | Press Releases

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) announced that he’s been named a Senate Great Lakes Task Force Vice-Chair. The Senate Great Lakes Task Force, co-chaired by U.S. Senators Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), is a bipartisan organization that works to enhance the economic and environmental health of the Great Lakes. Founded in the mid-1980s, the House and Senate Great Lakes Task Forces work together to advocate for policies and programs that enhance the Great Lakes. The House and Senate Great Lakes Task Forces are part of the bipartisan Northeast-Midwest Coalition, which has worked for over 30 years to advance the economic competitiveness, environmental quality and energy interests of this 18-state region.  On Saturday, Portman will fish on Lake Erie and then host a Lake Erie roundtable discussion at the Meinke Marina in Curtice, Ohio.

“The Great Lakes are an invaluable economic and environmental resource to Ohio, and it’s crucial we’re actively working to protect them,” Portman stated. “I’m pleased to be named a Vice-Chair of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force, and look forward to continuing my work to ensure that Lake Erie and all the Great Lakes thrive.” 

Members of the Great Lakes Task Force have worked together effectively to build support for key regional programs supporting the Great Lakes. Some of these initiatives include passage of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact which will ensure the protection of Great Lakes water supplies, invasive species prevention and control by authorizing the electric dispersal barrier in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal and pushing for strong ballast water requirements, creation of the Great Lakes Legacy program to remove contaminated sediment, and pushing for the creation of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

The Great Lakes Task Force has  worked to ensure sufficient funding for Great Lakes projects and programs such as constructing and operating the Chicago Ship and Sanitary Canal Dispersal Barrier, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the Great Lakes Legacy program, controlling sea lamprey, and ensuring sufficient fishery data through the U.S. Geological Survey large vessel research program.

Portman is the author of the Harmful Algal Blooms and Hypoxia Research and Control Amendments Act of 2013, which would reauthorize the Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) and Hypoxia Research and Control Act. For over a decade this program has served as the federal government’s research and response framework for harmful algal blooms.  Senator Portman negotiated a new Great Lakes section for the program that will ensure federal agencies prioritize monitoring and mitigation efforts on fresh water bodies such as Lake Erie. The legislation is headed to the President for signature.

Portman was also the author of The Stop Invasive Species Act which required the expedited completion of a plan to block Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes through a number of rivers and tributaries across the Great Lakes region. This bipartisan legislation to stop Asian carp from destroying the Great Lakes' ecosystem was signed into law.  The plan was released by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers earlier this year.