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Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Niagara USA Chamber is publicly opposing a plan by the International Joint Commission to regulate water levels on Lake Ontario, saying the adoption of the plan would harm the tourism industry in Niagara County.

The organization is hosting a roundtable discussion on the IJC plan with Congressman Chris Collins, elected officials from Niagara, Orleans and Monroe counties, business leaders and tourism experts. They will ask attendees of the roundtable to sign a petition urging Gov. Andrew Cuomo to veto the legislation implementing the plan.

The roundtable will be held at 9 a.m. Sept. 15 at Old Fort Niagara in Youngstown. It is free and open to the public, but space is limited to reservations are suggested by calling 285-9142.

The Chamber released a memorandum of opposition to the plan late last week. It follows in its entirety:
The Niagara USA Chamber, Niagara County’s leading business advocacy organization, opposes the International Joint Commission’s (IJC) adoption of Plan 2014, which would regulate water levels on Lake Ontario.

The negative effect to the tourism industry, commercial fishing, boaters and residents within the impacted communities comes at a time when these communities are trying to recover from the economic depression felt throughout the country in recent years.

The IJC itself acknowledged the impacts of Plan 2014, noting at least a 13 percent rise in the costs felt by property owners, municipalities and businesses along the shoreline for such things as erosion damage and maintenance or replacement of structures such as seawalls and breakwaters.

“This plan strikes at the heart of these communities and the IJC has offered no solutions to offset the negative economic impact,” stated Deanna Alterio Brennen, President and CEO of the Niagara USA Chamber.

Also at issue is the science behind this decision.  Both the National Research Council and the Royal Society of Canada have stated that the study used by the IJC to reach their decision is inadequate for use as basis for reaching their conclusion.  While the IJC has responded that these issues have been addressed, including the recommendation that an adaptive management strategy be developed to address future uncertainties, questions still remain.

“The Federal Government must recognize the immediate and long term negative effects this plan will have.  If there are still uncertainties or questions regarding this plan then it should not be enacted,” stated Anthony McKenna, the Chamber’s Legislative Committee Chairman.  “While we need to respect the need for good environmental policies, this is not one of them.” 

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