Governors Issue Their Own Great Lakes Agenda

Five Great Lakes state governors – including Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers – have issued their own Great Lakes 2020 presidential agenda. Joining Evers are Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf. All five are Democrats.

The governors point out that when the three other Great Lakes states are included (Indiana, Ohio and New York), they represent a $6 trillion regional economy that supports 51 million jobs. They also note that the shared waters supply drinking water to more than 48 million people.

The agenda states: “Our economy, heritage and quality of life depend on the health of our Great Lakes. But right now, the Great Lakes and the people of our states are facing dangerous threats to our water and our public health.”

The agenda also notes that “the Great Lakes region makes up 25 percent of the electoral college and includes multiple swing states critical to any candidate for president of the United States. The shared priorities of the Great Lakes region should be the shared priorities of all Americans.”

With that in mind, they request that any candidate running for president pledge support for the Great Lakes agenda, which includes these six points:

• Help solve the water-infrastructure crisis in the region – $179 billion will be needed during the next 20 years for improvement, upgrades and repairs – by tripling the federal investment in the Clean and Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund.

• Increase funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative from $300 million annually to $475 million. 

• Support, fully fund and expedite the plan to build new Asian carp prevention measures at the Brandon Road lock and dam in the Des Plaines River.

• Commit to assisting states in meeting their goals of reducing nutrient pollution in the western Lake Erie basin by 40 percent by 2025.

• Support federal funding for ports, harbors and critical infrastructure, including the Soo Locks reconstruction project at Sault Ste. Marie, pointing out that an unplanned closure of the aging Soo Locks could cripple Great Lakes shipping and the North American economy. 

• Push for increased action by both the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Defense to address PFAS chemical contamination.