Pennsylvania Onboard with New Great Lakes Action Plan

Pennsylvania Gov. Edward G. Rendell, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson and members of the Council of Great Lakes Governors on Feb. 21 unveiled an ambitious action plan designed to address the most serious environmental challenges facing the Great Lakes ecosystem.

"The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative highlights the important and urgent cause of protecting and restoring this valuable natural treasure," Rendell said. "Pennsylvania may only represent a small portion of the Great Lakes basin, but we have strong ideas and plans on how to return the Lake Erie watershed to good health. This action plan is an unprecedented opportunity for state and local partners in Pennsylvania's Great Lakes watersheds to take steps that will have a lasting benefit."

In February 2009, President Obama proposed $475 million for a Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. The action plan identifies goals, objectives and targets for programs and projects aimed at improving the Great Lakes ecosystem. The plan also outlines how the initiative's measures will be implemented through 2014.

The plan addresses issues including toxic substances and areas of concern; invasive species; near-shore health and nonpoint source pollution; and protections for habitat and wildlife.

Rendell said monitoring and evaluating the plan's actions will help to ensure accountability, and that continuing clear and regular communications and strong partnerships will be critical to the plan's eventual success.

"The priorities identified in the federal government's 2010 spending plan and the multi-year action plan support Pennsylvania's ongoing Great Lakes efforts," Rendell said. "One of our first cooperative tasks will be integrating the numerous existing federal, state and local restoration plans into a specific set of priorities and actions to create a blueprint for future action by both government and non-government organizations in Pennsylvania."