Congressman Bob Gibbs Statement Regarding the GAO Report on The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative

November 8, 2013
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Congressman Bob Gibbs released the following statement after the issuance of GAO Report: Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, Further Actions Would Result in More Useful Assessments and Help Address Factors That Limit Progress:

After reviewing the detailed report issued by the GAO it is evident that the EPA does not have adequate management and assessment measures in place to determine if projects aimed at improving the health of the Great Lakes region are actually working.  As Chairman of the Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee, the Clean Water Act and the jurisdiction over the EPA fall under my responsibilities. The findings within this report are important to note as we move forward to restore the Great Lakes and maintain our vital waterways systems throughout the country. The Great Lakes system is vitally important to our nation’s economy and the well-being of Ohio communities. Despite $1.3 billion in funding to date, EPA’s inability to measure the effectiveness of GLRI projects leaves taxpayers wondering if they are getting their money’s worth.

“The Action Plans that were set into place are not able to capture the results of nearly 60 percent of the outlined GLRI projects, therefore leading to insufficient information regarding any potential improvements. The report begs the question, ‘If you use measures to assess progress, and you have projects without measures, then how do we know if the projects are working?’  GAO has reported that the EPA has not adopted the proper policies necessary to ensure that the GLRI is meeting the goals that were originally intended for this specific initiative.  If the proper management was put into place, assessment of the GLRI projects could help GLRI stakeholders, Congress and the public to better determine the extent to which the Great Lakes ecosystem has been restored by this initiative.”

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative

  • This program is one of the largest investments in the Great Lakes in last two decades.  The resources provided by the Great Lakes support our country’s businesses and helps to create jobs while keeping us globally competitive.
  • This initiative is intended to be operational and has been built through countless hours by elected, agencies, businesses, public interests and other leaders that have resulted in the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy (GLRC Strategy).  This Strategy provides a framework for the Action Plan that will help to drive the goals of the initiative.
  • An Action Plan was developed by a task force of 11 agencies that would address five urgent issues beginning in 2010 through 2014:
    • Cleaning up toxics and areas of concern
    • Combating invasive species
    • Promoting nearshore health by protecting watersheds from polluted run-off
    • Restoring wetlands and other habitats
    • Tracking progress and working with strategic partners.
  • There are three key priorities guiding restoration for 2012 and 2013:
    • Cleaning up Areas of Concern
    • Reducing nutrients entering the Lakes
    • Preventing the introduction of new invasive species.