Casey Calls on Administration to Focus On Restoring Lake Erie in New Term

Recent Study Shows Lake Erie is One of Most Threatened Great Lakes

Lake Erie Coastal Region Supports 1.2 Million PA Jobs, Contributes $1.6B to State’s Economy

Washington DC- Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) called on the Obama Administration to focus on restoring Lake Erie in its upcoming term. In a letter to the President’s Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) Senator Casey noted a recent study showing that Lake Erie is one of the most threatened of the Great  Lakes. Lake Erie is critical to Pennsylvania’s economy- supporting 1.2 million jobs and generating $1.6 billion in economic activity for the Commonwealth.

“Lake Erie plays a critical role in job creation and economic growth in our state. I expect the Administration to make Lake Erie’s well-being a priority in the new term,” Senator Casey said. “This new study, showing Lake Erie is one of the most threatened Great Lakes should be a wakeup call. In order for Lake Erie to remain a hub of job creation and economic activity, it must be protected.”  

A new study called Joint Analysis of Stressors and Ecosystem Services to Enhance Restoration Effectiveness published in December found that Lake Erie is one of the most threatened of the Great Lakes.

Lake Erie is an important natural asset for Pennsylvania. Many industries, including but not limited to fishing, tourism, and recreation, depend on Lake Erie. Lake Erie spurs the Commonwealth’s economy in countless ways.  For example, the Lake Erie coastal region supports 1.2 million Pennsylvanian jobs. The nearly 2 million people who fish in Pennsylvania each year contribute more than $ 1.6 billion to the state’s economy. While there are at least two dozen restoration projects underway on Lake Erie, this study indicates that more needs to be done and provides a new tool to target restoration activities in order to maximize benefits.

The full text of Senator Casey’s letter to the CEQ can be seen below:

 

January 8th 2013

Ms. Nancy Sutley

Chair

White House Council on Environmental Quality

722 Jackson Place, NW
Washington, D.C. 20240

Dear Chair Sutley:

I am writing to alert you to the results of a new study called Joint Analysis of Stressors and Ecosystem Services to Enhance Restoration Effectiveness published in the December 17, 2012 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study found that Lake Erie is one of the most threatened of the Great Lakes due to cumulative impacts from humans.

This finding is of great concern to me as Lake Erie is an important natural asset for Pennsylvania. Many industries, including but not limited to fishing, tourism, and recreation, depend on Lake Erie. Lake Erie spurs the Commonwealth’s economy in countless ways.  For example, the Lake Erie coastal region supports 1.2 million Pennsylvanian jobs. The nearly 2 million people who fish in Pennsylvania each year contribute more than $ 1.6 billion to the state’s economy. While there are at least two dozen restoration projects underway on Lake Erie, this study indicates that more needs to be done and provides a new tool to target restoration activities in order to maximize benefits.

The purpose of the study was to help target restoration funds in large scale restoration projects, like the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. The study used models to investigate the relationship between ecosystem services and human-caused stressors for each lake. The study found that high-problem areas in Lake Erie suffer from multiple issues. It also found that many areas important for fishing and recreation are highly stressed and that wetlands and the mouths of rivers are the most stressed. Lake Erie had 9 to 28 more sources of stress than the average for the Great Lakes.

The study’s findings suggest:

  • The importance of considering the interactions between problems and the cumulative impacts of multiple problems when planning restoration activities;
  • Restoration planning could be improved with a detailed understanding of the problems that are impacting the habitat or ecosystem; and
  • Combined analysis of stress sources and ecosystem services can provide a critical foundation for maximizing restoration benefits.

While the study’s authors noted that additional investments in Great Lakes restoration are warranted and that funding is targeted to the most stressed areas, I encourage you to review the study and consider incorporating the suggestions into future restoration planning and prioritization. The complex combination of stressors for Lake Erie need to be better understood through research and addressed more effectively in the restoration process.

Thank you for your work to restore the Great Lakes.  I look forward to working with you on this issue and keeping Great Lakes restoration a National priority.

Sincerely,

Robert P. Casey, Jr.

United States Senator

Press Contact

April Mellody 202-228-6367