Michigan conservation exec named to U.S. and Canadian water panel

Michigan conservation exec named to U.S. and Canadian water panel
August 31, 2018 Gary Wilson, Great Lakes Now
Image by F l a n k e r via wikimedia cc 3.0

Lana Pollack, Wisconsin’s Rich Moy to step down from IJC

Michigan conservation executive Rob Sisson was named this week by President Trump to the International Joint Commission (IJC), the U.S. and Canadian agency that advises the two countries on trans-border water issues.

Photo by energynews.us cc 4.0

Rob Sisson of ConservAmerica, left, discusses conservative approaches to clean energy at an event in conjunction with the Republican Nation Convention, Photo by energynews.us cc 4.0

Sisson is currently President of ConservAmerica, a non-profit group that takes a non-partisan approach to environmental issues.

His appointment continues the long-standing practice of having a Michigan representative on the commission.

When confirmed by the Senate, Sisson will replace Obama appointee and Ann Arbor resident Lana Pollack as the Michigan representative, but he will not chair the U.S. contingent as Pollack does.

Trump also appointed Jane Corwin of New York and Lance Yohe of North Dakota to complete the U.S. group who will work with three Canadian counterparts.

Corwin will lead the U.S. representatives.

Business, politics and conservation

Sisson, who has a business background, served two terms as the mayor of Sturgis, Michigan, and has been active in the Republican Party told Great Lakes Now that he is “honored to have been selected.”

He said he wants to use his “experience in local government to work with stakeholders to address or plan for aging infrastructure and nonpoint source pollution.”

Image ijc.org

A Balanced Diet for Lake Erie, Image by ijc.org

Sisson cited Lake Erie’s annual algae blooms as an example of nonpoint source pollution that requires international attention. Responsibility for the problem is shared by the U.S. and Canada.

In 2014 the IJC released a report making recommendations to the two governments that included tighter regulations of nutrient runoff from farms, the primary contributor to Lake Erie’s algae.

In 2016 Michigan, Ohio and Ontario agreed to a non-binding plan to reduce phosphorus flow that generates algae to Lake Erie by 40 percent by 2025 with a reduction of 20 percent by 2020.

Ohio and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are still resisting regulation of farm activities and there is a case currently pending in federal court in Toledo.

Experts say those goals are unlikely to be met.

Sisson’s ConservAmerica biography does not list international experience but he told Great Lakes Now he has been involved at the federal level advocating for Great Lakes funding.

Wall Street to water policy

New York’s Corwin worked on Wall Street and in a family business before entering politics.

Photo by Mattdpoole1999 via wikimedia

JaneL.Corwin with former Speaker of the House Boehner, Photo by Mattdpoole1999 via wikimedia

Her appointment to lead the U.S. contingent signals that the Trump administration is reacting to criticism of the IJC over its management of water levels for Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River.

In 2017 New York experienced flooding that Gov. Andrew Cuomo attributed to IJC action. He called for the U.S. commissioners to be replaced. The IJC maintains the flooding was caused by heavy rains.

In spite of strained relations between the U.S. and Canada over President Trump’s trade actions, former Obama IJC policy adviser Dave Dempsey doesn’t expect that to carry over to the IJC.

“Generalized tensions between the two countries don’t usually spill over into the IJC relationship,” Dempsey told Great Lakes Now.

Dempsey does note that the new commission makeup will be President Trump and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appointees but said “the tradition is to strive greatly for consensus.”

Rich Moy from Wisconsin will also be leaving the IJC. The third U.S. seat has been vacant.

Both Moy and Pollack will remain in their current roles until the new commissioners arrive according, to IJC Washington spokesperson Frank Bevacqua.

Appointment of the commissioners requires confirmation by the U.S. Senate which could take months.

Featured Image: Flags of Canada and the United States, Image by Flanker via wikimedia cc 3.0


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