U.S. and Canadian Legislators Discuss Great Lakes Impact

By KBJR News 1

July 29, 2013 Updated Jul 29, 2013 at 10:40 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) - The Twin Ports has been a global leader for shipping for decades and on Monday lawmakers came together to discuss the impact Duluth's waterways has on connecting waterways.

The pristine waters of Lake Superior and Duluth harbor have been a solid source of economic and environmental strength for decades and lawmakers from across the Great Lakes and Canada.

"I have people who come to the Duluth-Superior area for tourism, but also, this is the economic engine for Minnesota, there are jobs here," said Rep. Rick Hansen, DFL , Minn., District 52A.

Lawmakers from eight U.S. states and two Canadian provinces met for the non-partisan, Great Lakes Legislative Caucus, an annual event giving leaders an opportunity to see some of the problems plaguing our connecting waterways from invasive species to concerns of water levels to last June's floods.

"We are here to talk about some of the things that we've seen in Duluth over the past year, the flood damage of last year, the recovery of Lake Superior, but also Lake Superior as a source of commerce and a source of shipping and transportation," said Sen. Roger Rienert, DFL, Duluth.

Lawmaker Phil McNeely from the neighboring Ontario province says seeing the Duluth waters in person is a great way to strengthen the waterways in his area of the Great Lakes.

"Coming down here today certainly gives us a different perception, we sit on Lake Ontario that's where our legislature is and to be down in Duluth and see the fantastic harbor here, something that I hadn't understood before," Phil McNeely, Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

And whatever side of the table or border these lawmakers are on, they say it's all of our responsibility to make our connecting waterways, world class.

Members from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency were also part of Monday's caucus to hear the progress on flood recovery.

The caucus continues on Tuesday.

Jeremy Brickley