Collins urges appointment of 3 members to IJC board, which regulates lake levels

Posted 7 March 2019 at 9:47 am

Press Release, Congressman Chris Collins

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Representative Chris Collins (NY-27) has led a letter calling on the U.S. Senate to finally approve President Trump’s nominees to the International Joint Commission (IJC) which oversee all waters between the United States and Canada.

Currently, the IJC is in limbo because it only has two of its six commissioners in office when a quorum of four is necessary to conduct business.

With the harsh winter and current high lake levels in the Great Lakes, concern is growing about the potential damage to the Lake Ontario shore this spring when levels are likely to be even higher if action is not taken.

“We are again seeing an increase in water levels within Lake Ontario, which is a concern for myself, local governments, homeowners, and businesses,” said Congressman Collins. “We cannot wait until our community is impacted by another flooding disaster to take action, and the IJC cannot act without these nominations moving forward in the Senate.”

Joining Collins on the letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and leadership of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Chairman James E. Risch and Ranking Member Bob Menendez, were United States Senator Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Rep. John Katko (NY-24), Rep. Fred Upton (MI-6), Rep. Mike Kelly (PA-16), Rep. Pete Stauber (MN-8), and Rep. Bill Huizenga (MI-2). The letter requests an expeditious review and approval for the three of IJC Commissioner U.S. nominees as the Lake Ontario water levels are raising at a dangerously high rate.

Last year President Trump nominated Jane Corwin, a former state assemblywoman from Clarence, to serve as U.S. Chair alongside Robert C. Sisson and Lance V. Yohe as U.S. Commissioners at the IJC. These appointments expired at the end of the last Congress, but were re-nominated by the President and are awaiting passage through the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and confirmation by the Senate.

Additionally, the Canadian government is withholding their IJC appointments until the United States has filled its appointments.

“Great Lake communities, especially Lake Ontario, are now facing detrimental impacts if commissioners are not in place at the IJC to take action,” added Collins.  “We cannot afford to have a repeat of 2017 when Lake Ontario reached water levels that had not been seen in decades.”

The 2017 flooding damaged homes, businesses, and infrastructure.  Due to the more than a hundred miles of coastline damage, Governor Cuomo declared a state of emergency for eight counties on the Lake Ontario shore.

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