Obama pledges to protect Great Lakes

Democratic politicians are offering advice to voters who care about Lake Erie and the other Great Lakes: Vote for Obama.
Tom Jackson
May 24, 2010


Democratic politicians are offering advice to voters who care about Lake Erie and the other Great Lakes: Vote for Obama.

Two Democratic U.S. senators, Michigan's Debbie Stabenow and Minnesota's Amy Klobuchar, and a Democratic governor, Wisconsin's Jim Doyle, told reporters in a conference call Tuesday that this year's election offers voters in the Great Lakes states a chance to elect a Great Lakes senator who understands their needs.

Obama represents Illinois, a Great Lakes state abutting Lake Michigan.

"It's in our DNA. You don't have to explain to a Great Lakes senator why this should be a priority," Stabenow said.

"He's on a Great Lake, and he didn't just start talking about the lakes when he ran for president," Klobuchar said.

U.S. Sen. John McCain's Ohio spokesman, Paul Lindsay, did not return a telephone call Thursday asking for comment.

The trio of politicians and an Obama advisor spoke to reporters for about an hour. They answered several questions, but the Register was not allowed to pose a question.

The trio of politicians spoke to reporters as the Obama campaign released a five-point plan for restoring the Great Lakes. Here are the provisions:

n Provide $5 million of new federal funds over 10 years to "jump start" Great Lakes restoration, with the money spent on projects such as sewage plant repairs, toxic cleanups and wetlands restoration.

n Name a Great Lakes coordinator within the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to coordinate federal, state and local efforts to restore the Great Lakes, oversee funding, deal with red tape and keep efforts on track.

n Reduce toxic hot spots in the Great Lakes, with a particular focus on eliminating mercury pollution.

"Not only should you be able to catch a lot of fish in the Great Lakes, you should be able to eat those fish," Doyle said.

n Ratify and fully implement the Great Lakes Compact.

The compact has been approved by the eight Great Lakes states, including Ohio, and has won approval in the U.S. Senate. It bans any diversion of water from the Great Lakes to areas outside the lakes' watershed.

n Take aggressive action to control and prevent invasive species.

The last provision refers to efforts to prevent harmful non-native species from spreading into the lakes, and includes efforts to clean up ballast water from ships.

The trio of Democratic politicians said that while Obama has supported creating a permanent barrier to prevent the Asian Carp from getting into the Great Lakes and threatening native fish species, McCain voted against the measure.