Judgment Day for Executive Order 13340 has Arrived

OK, OK, we know there is a war going on and each morning we awake to another ghastly political scandal, but still, the President should finish what he has started and that means re-engaging on his dusty three-year-old executive order that birthed the Great Lakes Interagency Task Force and the Great Lakes Collaboration of National Significance.

Disgusted by the vapid or rather, nonexistent leadership by the EPA and the White House on this, what did we call it, issue of “National Significance,” nearly 30 members from both parties of Congress, sent strongly worded letters to the EPA Administrator and US President demanding accountability.

“We are disappointed that since the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy Report was released, agency efforts and enthusiasm for implementing the Executive Order have waned. Although the Federal agencies regularly meet, restoration progress has been inadequate. We also are concerned that the coordination between the Federal agencies with state, tribal, local and other partners remains inconsistent at best and non-existent at worst,” the July 31, 2007 letter states.

The letter to EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson pointedly requests responses to specific action items that were promised and remain unfulfilled. Simply put, it is called follow through – that is what lawmakers are looking for – that is what constituents want.

It may be a coincidence, but three weeks after Johnson received the letter, participants in the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration were sent a save-the-date  for the first stakeholder meeting since the release of the report. The purpose is purportedly to report on activities and share information on implementation progress – should be a short meeting. Still, at least the letters may have triggered some small movement but much, much more has been and continues to be expected – frankly, the Administration should be embarrassed at this paltry, vague response.

Bush’s approval ratings have hit a plateau somewhere in the frosty 30s. One way he could win over some friends in Congress – at least from the Great Lakes Task Force who signed on, plus the Governors – some from swing states (Bush, do you remember Ohio? Most of its northern border is a Great Lake.) – would be to address the issue and show some leadership – ASAP.

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