Conservation Groups Support Study Of Environmental Impacts, Urge Agency To Take Climate Change Impacts Into Account
By Jennifer Nalbone, Great Lakes United
After nearly a decade of controversy, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has officially abandoned expansion plans for the Great Lakes Navigation System and St. Lawrence Seaway to allow larger ocean ships to enter and transit the system, and instead are recommending a study on how to minimize environmental impact from shipping. Thirty-four groups from the eight Great Lakes states and the province of Ontario sent a letter to the Corps thanking them for this significant change of course.
According to the Corps’ most recent report, constructing larger locks and deepening connecting channels will “no longer be considered” because “both the U.S. and Canada feel that expansion of the system is not warranted at this time.” In a surprising change of course, the report also recommends a binational review of the Great Lakes Navigation System to reduce environmental impacts.
In the letter, conservation groups critique the U.S. Corps of Engineers for failing to take climate change impacts on water levels into account. The groups urge the Corps and the shipping industry to develop adaptive strategies to lower water levels to maintain vitality of the waterway system and the ecosystem.
“Thankfully the Corps agrees that physically molding the Great Lakes for shipping interests is not sustainable,” said Jennifer Nalbone, director of navigation and invasive species for Great Lakes United. “Now the challenge is urging the Corps and the industry to figure out how to operate with potentially dramatically lower lake levels, because we aren’t going to be able to dredge our way out of climate change.”
Find the Corps’ Supplemental Reconnaissance Report here: www.lre.usace.army.mil/_kd/Items/actions.cfm?action=Show&item_ id=6965&destination=ShowItem
Find the NGO letter here: http://www.glu.org/en/system/ files/2011 34 group Signon NAV Supplement Study FINAL.pdf
For more information contact: Jennifer Nalbone, Great Lakes United (716) 213-0408, firstname.lastname@example.org