President Obama names Great Lakes czar to oversee cleanup efforts

SANDUSKY President Barack Obama has kept his promise to name a "Great Lakes czar" to help
Tom Jackson
May 24, 2010



President Barack Obama has kept his promise to name a "Great Lakes czar" to help the Environmental Protection Agency oversee the cleanup and restoration of the Great Lakes.

Cameron Davis, president of the Alliance for the Great Lakes, will serve as aspecial adviser to the Great Lakes for the EPA. Davis will leave the Alliance on June 30.

"Cameron Davis' work at the Alliance for the Great Lakes during the last 23 years has helped put the Great Lakes on the national radar -- not only with the new administration and Congress, but with states, cities and countless citizens," said Jack Bails, chairman of the Alliance's board.

The appointment was announced as Congress prepared to begin work on the Obama administration's request for $475 million in the 2010 budget to fund the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

The president has said he wants to use the money to clean up toxic substances, battle invasive species and deal with health and pollution problems along the shores of the lakes. He also aims to protect and restore wildlife habitat and monitor progress in cleaning up the lakes.

A House subcommittee is expected to begin work on the bill in about two weeks, said Tim Eder, executive director of the Great Lakes Commission.

"It is not at all certain that Congress will approve the full amount," Eder said. "Nobody is talking about adding more."

U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Toledo, has been outspoken and helpful in supporting such funding, Eder said.

Kaptur's communications director, Steve Fought, was on vacation this week. Her staff director, Steve Katich, was in a meeting and could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Because Ohio already has put together a Lake Erie cleanup plan, it is well-positioned to get its fair share of federal dollars if the measure is approved, Eder said.

Sean Logan, director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, said that while Ohio has done its share to clean up Lake Erie, "we can't do it unless we have some federal assistance."

Logan said he's pushed hard to line up support for the measure among members of Ohio's congressional delegation.