The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and Climate Change

This past June Obama created the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force- their job is to develop “a recommendation for a national policy that ensures protection, maintenance, and restoration of oceans, our coasts and the Great Lakes.” The task force visited the Great Lakes area this week, looking at what needs to be done in the future as the region adapts to climate change and how to integrate those actions with the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, already under consideration in Congress.

“I look at the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative as a climate change adaptation effort,” said Cameron Davis, head of the Great Lakes task force, said at a recent press conference in Cleveland.

The Great Lakes are home to 20% of the fresh water in the world, which promises to be only become more important as a resource in the coming decades- restoring and protecting it as both a resource and a habitat is a critical part of the U.S. government’s environmental policy.

“I don’t think you can separate climate change from the focus areas of the Great Lakes Initiative,” Davis said, establishing an important philosophical framework for how the task force will assess the region.

In addition to looking at the effect on oceans, the task force is looking at how the Great Lakes, one of the largest fresh water sources in the world, will need to adapt- and the fact that a governmental task force is talking openly about how climate change will dictate the future restoration and preservation efforts on 20% of the world’s fresh water is a big deal and a strong step forward. It’s a bright spot for the U.S. government as climate change legislation languishes in Congress and Copenhagen approaches without clear commitments or even perspective.

Look for the final report from this task force to be presented to Obama sometime this December.

Quotes and research from Michael Scott at

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Author: Scott James

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