Indiana House Votes to Protect Great Lakes

The Elkhart Truth reports on the latest bill to protect the Great Lakes system. Indiana and surrounding states — and even two Canadian provinces — have worked over the past few years, namely via the Great Lakes Compact, to protect the lakes and keep the resources primarily in the region.

Indiana’s House of Representatives voted 90-0 this week to support a bill authored by State Sen. Joe Zakas, R-Granger, to better protect and improve the Great Lakes and its watershed.

Senate Bill 157 requires the Environmental Quality Service Council — a bipartisan legislative panel that studies state energy and environmental policies — with reviewing and discussing issues related to the supply and quality of water in the Great Lakes. The EQSC will also review what federal funds are available for water protection, infrastructure conditions and regulatory matters affecting shipping and other relevant matters.

Indiana has 45 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline.

The bill was supported by both the Northwest Indiana Forum, a regional organization that works to promote economic development, and the Great Lakes, an interstate compact agency that promotes the orderly, integrated and comprehensive development, use and conservation of the water and related natural resources of the Great Lakes basin and St. Lawrence River.

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Indiana Department of Environmental Management, the Nature Conservancy, the Sierra Club, the Indiana Wildlife Federation and the Indiana Chamber of Commerce backed Zakas’ proposal, he said.

In 2008, Zakas was successful in getting Indiana to join the Great Lakes Compact to help monitor, manage and protect water resources of the lakes. He said this new initiative could help state officials remain engaged and informed about Great Lakes issues.

S.B.157 will now move to the governor for his approval.