WXXI Local Stories
Wed July 2, 2003
By Bud Lowell
Rochester, NY – Western New York Congressman Tom Reynolds says the Great Lakes need a four-billion dollar federal trust fund to help keep the water clean and keep out invasive species.
Standing on the Charlotte Pier in Rochester Wednesday afternoon, Reynolds said he and Congressman Rahm Emanuel will introduce a bill to create such a trust fund after the July Fourth Holiday.
Reynolds and Emanuel say their legislation would be similar to the multi-million dollar Restoration fund, launched in 2000 to preserve the Florida Everglades.
Reynolds is a Republican from Erie County; Emanuel is a Democrat from Illinois and former advisor to the Clinton Administration. Both men represent districts along the Great Lakes, which contain one-fifth of the world's fresh water.
Reynolds says past efforts to clean up the Great Lakes have done a lot to clean up the water and restore sport fishing. But he says there are still "hot spots" of toxic pollution around the lakes, invasive species that threaten native fish and wildlife and wetlands that need to be protected.
Most of those species are brought in by ocean-going ships that use the Saint Lawrence Seaway.
Reynolds says it will take funding to get a handle on these problems, and he and Emanuel believe the effort would be better off under state control.
They're proposing a panel made up of the Governors from the eight Great Lakes States, plus federal officials and scientists who would decide how to use the money. States would supply matching funds, but Reynolds says local governments wouldn't have to.
Details of how the money would be used still have to be worked out, but Reynolds says it will be by a formula that treats all the states fairly.
Chuck O'Neill of the New York Seagrant Program at Brockport State College says Reynolds is proposing a "wholistic" program that looks at the entire environment of the Great Lakes.
Brockport State Officials say they're working with Congressman Reynolds to set up a Lake Ontario Research Institute at the Brockport campus.
According to the Associated Press, David Higby, a project director for the group Environmental advocates of New York, said a federal fund is "long overdue, and should protect the Great Lakes watershed for generations to come."