Skip to content

Protecting America’s Coasts: What It Means to the Great Lakes

2011 August 4

By Cameron Davis

Nearly 1,000 people attended the recent Coastal Zone 2011 conference in Chicago to recognize the first year anniversary of President Obama’s “National Ocean Policy,” to protect the country’s oceans, coasts and Great Lakes. So, why should we freshwater fans in the Great Lakes basin care about a policy that seems largely about saltwater? For a lot of reasons.

First, the Great Lakes are connected to and impacted by saltwater. Our front door is the St. Lawrence River, through which ocean-going ships enter the Great Lakes. Our back door is the Chicago Area Waterway System (CAWS), which connects Lake Michigan to the Gulf of Mexico via the Chicago, Illinois and Mississippi Rivers. Both doors present a way for invasive species to enter the Great Lakes and vice versa.

Second, in an era of shrinking budgets, stronger coordination and partnership is important. At this conference, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson’s work with the Great Lakes Inter-Agency Task Force was mentioned as a good example of Federal and binational agency coordination.

Third, investments in ecosystem restoration typically come out of the same pots of funding. To avoid a zero-sum game, where one dollar for one system means the loss of that dollar for a different system, the national policy can be a mechanism to ensure a “rising tide lifts all boats” by funding and coordinating work in all regions while recognizing regional differences.

For more about President Obama’s National Ocean Policy, visit

For more about the CZ 2011 conference, visit

About the author: Cameron Davis is Senior Advisor to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. He provides counsel on Great Lakes matters, including the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

2 Responses leave one →
  1. armansyahardanis permalink
    August 4, 2011

    Money, Natural Resources or Human Resources ?

    Human Resources. It makes us satisfied to live in the future anywhere. Natural resources will use up and so the role of money will less and lost. We just need the water and several supplements…

  2. Rick Wels permalink
    August 7, 2011

    Hi Cameron,

    It’s nice to read and (when on location) to witness what the EPA can do for the environment and the people (all of us!) connected to it. In light of the debt crisis and the short-sighted proposals of the political right to drastically cut funding and seize authorities of your agency is very frightening.

    This generation was supposed to be an important driver for sustainability in the 21st Century and Obama announced that America would be leading the way. I would say it’s not looking too good. What would you recommend the younger generations should do to prevent the right from destroying the future of their environmental health?


Leave a Reply

Note: You can use basic XHTML in your comments. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS