"The Town of Alexandria welcomes with open arms the Great Lakes Center of Expertise Enhancement Act as a much-needed amendment to the Frank LoBiondo Coast Guard (USCG) Authorization Act of 2018," said Town of Alexandria Supervisor Brent Sweet. "Our local community of the Town of Alexandria and Village of Alexandria Bay is in the Heart of the Thousand Islands on the St. Lawrence River. This community experienced a devastating oil spill along our portion of the St Lawrence River in 1976. The impact on the environment and economy was catastrophic. Thankfully, The Great Lakes Center of Expertise Enhancement Act amends the 2018 USCG Authorization Act to include the St Lawrence River community in the Town of Alexandria and Village of Alexandria Bay. Since 1976, our community and local first responders have put endless hours into training and developing effective oil spill response protocol. Our local Coast Guard are professional and effective at patrolling and safeguarding our St Lawrence River assets. This amendment will facilitate them in continuing their dedication to the St Lawrence River and local communities."
Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Elise Stefanik and Congressman Joe Morelle (D-N.Y.) today introduced the St. Lawrence River and Great Lakes Waterways Protection Act, bipartisan legislation to ensure that the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) includes studying the impact of oil spills in the St. Lawrence River and Great Lakes waterways as well as best practices for responding to any spill that may occur in freshwater environments.
Currently, the St. Lawrence River is not included in the scope of the U.S. Coast Guard’s National Center of Expertise for Great Lakes Oil Spill Preparedness and Response.
“The St. Lawrence River is a keystone of the North Country and serves as the integral access point for shipping to enter the Great Lakes,” Stefanik said. “This bill is a critical step forward to ensure the continued protection of the St. Lawrence as part of the Coast Guard’s important work. I am proud to introduce legislation that will protect and preserve our river communities.”
“As we continue working to safeguard our environment, we must ensure our waterways remain free of pollution and toxic oil spills,” said Congressman Joe Morelle. “It is imperative that Great Lakes waterways, like the Niagara River, be included in this important study that will help develop effective responses to better protect our natural resources. I’m proud to partner with Rep. Stefanik on this bipartisan legislation and look forward to our continued work together to enhance the resiliency of our shoreline communities.”
The Frank LoBiondo Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2018 included a provision that created the USCG Great Lakes National Center of Expertise (CoE) for Oil Spill Preparedness and Response. The purpose of the CoE is to examine the impacts of oil spills in freshwater environments and help develop effective responses to spills in the Great Lakes, but did not include the St. Lawrence River in the scope of the CoE’s definition of “Great Lakes.”
"Speaking for the fifty mile stretch of the St. Lawrence River shoreline that I represent on the St. Lawrence County Board of Legislators, I would certainly advocate for and support the inclusion of all waterways and rivers that empty into the greater Great Lakes system via the St. Lawrence River. An all-encompassing scope would enhance the efforts to examine the impacts of current and potential issues as well as identifying the best way of dealing with them," said Joe Lightfoot, St. Lawrence County Legislator, District 3.
Read full text of the bill here.