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Schumer Calls For Vote On Nominees To International Joint Commission

ROCHESTER, NY (WXXI) - The commission that oversees the Great Lakes still has vacant positions, and Senator Chuck Schumer is calling for congress to vote on current nominees.

The International Joint Commission has been around for more of a century, and this is the second longest time its been unable to function due to empty seats.
U.S. Chair Lana Pollack says it's extremely unusual.

"Oh, it's awful," she said via phone. "And very frustrating."

Typically the IJC is responsible for overseeing lakes and rivers bordered by the U.S. and Canada. The commission works with engineers and scientists and advises both governments on regulation.

Pollack says they've been unable to even meet due to the vacancies. She believes Republicans in Congress have been stalling the progress, which she thinks is misguided.

“The work that’s done is a long way from anything I recognize as political,” she said.

Senator Schumer and other elected officials are calling on congress to approve the current nominees, including former New York Assemblywoman Jane Corwin.

But Pollack says even if all the U.S. seats are filled, they still need the Canadian government to take action on their end.

But, even when these vacancies are filled, Pollack says commissioners are unlikely to overturn the controversial lake level management plan called Plan 2014.

“Frankly I don’t see a change of plans in the works, not in the near future, because there’s no evidence that there would be a better way of managing the waters,” she said.

Pollack notes that without enough commissioners, they are unable to address concerns like algal blooms, other water contamination, and flooding.