Exhibit 25
Chart A
Source: State of Michigan's Environment 2005

(Note: Following is an extension of testimony submitted by Diane S. Katz, Mackinac Center director of science, environment and technology policy, to the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. On March 16, Katz testified before the committee during a hearing on the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy to Restore and Protect the Great Lakes. Later, committee senators asked Katz to respond to these follow-up questions.)

Question from Senator Inhofe:

Exhibit 29
Chart B
Source: State of Michigan's Environment 2005
More images …

1. Mr. Andy Buchsbaum expressed disagreement with your characterization of the health of the Great Lakes. How do you respond to his criticisms of your statement and what do you believe to be the current state of the Great Lakes?

The question posed by Sen. Jeffords to Mr. Buchsbaum was based on a faulty premise. As the hearing transcript shows, the senator asked Mr. Buchsbaum to explain "the difference between the scientific assessment of the Great Lakes with the view presented by Ms. Katz." In so doing, Senator Jeffords erroneously insinuated that my testimony lacked scientific merit as compared to the opinions offered by Mr. Buchsbaum. That is not the case, as the data below affirms.

Mr. Buchsbaum did not rebut my testimony directly. In fact, he concurred with my overall assessment that water quality has improved, stating: "(A)s Ms. Katz said, water quality is better, there are some indicators that have gone up, some of the Government reports are somewhat favorable."

I hold that Great Lakes water quality has improved overall. Indeed, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which is not prone to optimism, has concluded that, "The Great Lakes have improved tremendously."[1] That is not to say there aren’t ecological challenges to overcome. The infiltration of non-native species, for example, is a legitimate concern. But in the absence of basin-wide monitoring and coordinated research, it is difficult to determine the extent of the problem or the most beneficial course of action.

The following facts informed my testimony about the state of the Great Lakes:

  • Ten of 17 U.S./Canadian goals for the reduction of Level 1 toxic substances in the lakes have been achieved, and three others will be reached this year.[2] Progress toward the remaining four goals will be well advanced by year’s end. (The Level 1 toxics include mercury, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB), dioxins/furans, hexachlorozensene (HCB), benso (a) pyrene (B(a)P), octachlorostyrene (OCS), alkyl-lead, aldrin, dieldrin, mirex, chlordane, toxaphene, and DDT.)

  • According to the State of the Great Lakes 2005, "Over the last 30 years, a decrease in the amount of contaminants in the Great Lakes suggests overall improvement. There is a marked reduction in levels of toxic chemicals in air, water, biota and sediments."[3]

  • Wild lake trout are abundant in Lake Superior once again. (Lake trout are good indicators of aquatic ecosystem health because of their potential extended life span.) As reported by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, "Currently, lake trout populations are nearly rehabilitated in all areas of Michigan’s waters of Lake Superior … Hatchery lake trout comprise less than 20 percent of lake trout abundance." [4]

  • View Chart A

  • PCB levels in lake trout in the Great Lakes have declined dramatically.[5] PCB levels have also declined in Chinook salmon from Lakes Michigan and Huron, leading to cancellation of the Chinook consumption advisory.

  • View Chart B

  • The bald eagle population has increased from a low of 50 nests in 1961 to 427 in 2004.[6] (The bald eagle is recognized as a useful indicator of environmental health by the International Joint Commission and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.)

  • View Chart C

  • Bald eagle productivity, measured as the number of young fledged per nest, has increased 50 percent since 1961.

  • View Chart D

  • PCB levels in the blood of bald eagles have fallen "dramatically," according to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.[7]

  • View Chart E

  • The Environmental Protection Agency reports that "nutrient targets have largely been achieved."[8] The decline in phosphorus has reduced excess algae growth and changed the composition of the algal population.[9] Nuisance algal species have given way to more desirable and historically prevalent species.

  • View Chart F

  • Concentrations of PCBs, hexachlorobenzene and mirex in suspended sediments in Lake Ontario and Lake Erie decreased between 38 percent and 74 percent from1997 to 2000.[10]

  • View Chart G

Question from Senator Jeffords:

1. On what scientific documents and peer reviewed studies do you base your assessment of the state of the Great Lakes ecosystem and the level of risk posed to that ecosystem should restoration actions not be taken?

My most recent assessment of the state of the Great Lakes is based on the documents and studies listed below, as well as dozens of other studies and research documents that I have read and critiqued in the course of my 15 years of researching and reporting on the Great Lakes. Most of my sources are the very regulatory agencies that would assume additional authority and funding should Congress approve the collaboration strategy the senator advocates.

I did not suggest in my testimony — nor do I believe — that restoration actions should not be taken. Therefore, I have no documents or studies to cite for such a conclusion. Finding fault with the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy does not mean that I oppose restoration actions. On the contrary, my testimony includes six specific recommendations to improve stewardship of the Great Lakes.

    1. Bails, Jack et al., "Prescription for Great Lakes Ecosystem Protection and Restoration (Avoiding the Tipping Point of Irreversible Changes)," December 2005.

    2. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, "Great Lakes Ecosystem Report," Great Lakes National Program Office, Washington, D.C., January 2001.

    3. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Environment Canada, "Great Lakes Binational Toxic Strategy Progress Report 2004," Chicago, IL.

    4. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Environment Canada, "State of the Great Lakes 2005," Chicago, IL; Toronto, Ont.

    5. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Environment Canada, "The Great Lakes: An Environmental Atlas and Resource Book, Chicago, IL; Toronto, Ont., 1995.

    6. Marvin, Christopher H. et al., "Contaminants Associated with Suspended Sediments in Lakes Erie and Ontario, 1997-2000," Journal of Great Lakes Research, Vol. 30, No. 2, pp. 277-286, International Association for Great Lakes Research, 2004.

    7. Sagoff, Mark, "Do Non-Native Species Threaten the Natural Environment," Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics, Vo. 18, pp. 215-236, 2005.

    8. U.S. General Accounting Office, "Great Lakes: An Overall Strategy and Indicators for Measuring Progress Are Needed to Better Achieve Restoration Goals," Washington, D.C., April 2003.

    9. U.S. General Accounting Office, "Invasive Species: Federal Efforts and State Perspectives on Challenges and National Leadership," Washington, D.C., June 2003.

    10. U.S. General Accounting Office, "Great Lakes: Organizational Leadership and Restoration Goals Need to be Better Defined for Monitoring Restoration Progress," Washington, D.C., September 2004.

    11. U.S. General Accounting Office, "Great Lakes Initiative," EPA Needs to Better Ensure the Complete and Consistent Implementation of Water Quality Standards," Washington, D.C., July 2005.

Question from Senator Voinovich:

1. What are your thoughts on S. 208? How would you envision a program to monitor the Lakes?

I regard S. 208 as a well-intended but flawed attempt to improve monitoring of Great Lakes water quality.

This legislation, if enacted, would direct the Great Lakes National Program Office to "develop, implement, monitor and report on indicators of water quality and related environmental factors." Such a delegation of responsibility is ill-advised. The Great Lakes National Program Office already has failed to develop environmental indicators as called for under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. According to a 2003 report by the U.S. General Accounting Office:

Since our 1988 report on EPA’s management, GAO has stressed numerous times that EPA place priority on developing indicators to guide the agency’s priority setting, strategic planning, and resource allocation…EPA has not initiated or planned an institutional framework with clear lines of responsibility and accountability for developing and using environmental indicators, and no processes, procedures, or work plans exist to link the results of the initiative with EPA’s strategic planning and performance reporting cycle.

Moreover, as the GAO stated in a 2004 report, the EPA and its Great Lakes National Program Office (GLNPO) have also failed to lead and coordinate Great Lakes restoration efforts. "This role has never been completely filled by GLNPO because it has not fully exercised its coordination authority," the GAO concluded. "Other organizations have attempted to fill the void."

S. 208 is also problematic because it employs only vague language in dictating the type of indicators and monitoring to be developed by the EPA, i.e. "a set of science-based indicators of water quality and related environmental factors." Such statutory generalities grant too great a degree of discretion to a regulatory agency with a long and troubled history of "mission creep." An explicit statement of monitoring priorities is needed to ensure that legitimate policy goals are achieved.

The authorizations outlined in S. 208 are excessive, particularly in light of the lack of accounting for the billions of dollars appropriated to numerous Great Lakes programs over the past three decades. Funding for the development of indicators and basin-wide monitoring should be generated by eliminating existing programs that cannot document environmental improvements commensurate with costs.

Developing a set of credible and relevant indicators is no easy task. I recommend that Congress first demand an accounting of existing indicator sets and monitoring activities before launching a new initiative. And given the technical and political pitfalls of developing a new monitoring regime, private researchers would be preferable to government bureaucrats who have already failed to fulfill their responsibilities for monitoring restoration progress.

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Diane S. Katz is director of science, environment and technology policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a research and educational institute headquartered in Midland, Mich. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided that the author and the Center are properly cited.



[1] U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, "Great Lakes Ecosystem Report," Great Lakes National Program Office, Washington, D.C., January 2001.

[2] U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Environment Canada, "Great Lakes Binational Toxic Strategy Progress Report 2004," Chicago, IL. http://binational.net/bns/2004glbts_en.pdf

[3] U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Environment Canada, "State of the Great Lakes 2005," Chicago, IL; Toronto, Ont.

[4] Harrison, K.G. (Ed.), State of Michigan's Environment 2005: Third Biennial Report, Lansing, MI, January 2006.

[5] Harrison, K.G. (Ed.), State of Michigan's Environment 2005: Third Biennial Report, Lansing, MI, January 2006.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Harrison, K.G. (Ed.), State of Michigan's Environment 2005: Third Biennial Report, Lansing, MI, January 2006.

[8] U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Environment Canada, "Great Lakes Binational Toxic Strategy Progress Report 2004," Chicago, IL. http://binational.net/bns/2004glbts_en.pdf

[9] U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Environment Canada, "The Great Lakes: An Environmental Atlas and Resource Book," 1995, Chicago, IL; Toronto, Ont. http://www.epa.gov/glnpo/atlas/index.html

[10] Marvin, Christopher H.; Sverko, Ed; Charlton, Murray N.; Thiessen, P.P. Lina; Painter, Scott, "Contaminants Associated with Suspended Sediments in Lakes Erie and Ontario, 1997-2000," Journal of Great Lakes Research, Vol. 30, No. 2, pp. 277-286, International Association for Great Lakes Research, 2004.