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Federal watchdog agency to review Plan 2014 

The federal government’s congressional watchdog agency is taking a look at a controversial plan that regulates outflows from Lake Ontario into the St. Lawrence Seaway.

The General Accounting Office is reviewing Plan 2014, the regulatory plan that went into effect a few years ago. Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand called for the review earlier this year; news about the review was released this week by two members of Congress who represent parts of the shoreline, John Katko, R-Camillus in the Syracuse area, and Anthony Brindisi, D-Utica.

A number of shoreline residents and area political officials have blamed the plan for flooding that happened in 2017 and again this year, although officials with the International Joint Commission have said the flooding was mostly due to excessive rain throughout the Great Lakes watersheds and resulting inflows from the other Great Lakes, particularly Lake Erie.

Katko and Brindisi say the GAO will be reviewing how Plan 2014 was developed, how it’s being implemented and how the IJC is addressing concerns about the plan.

Katko is hoping the review will get the IJC to make changes.

“It puts further pressure on them to do something and act and if they don’t, then we have to approach the president or approach the state department or both and decide and try and convince them to pull out of Plan 2014 if they can’t address the concerns,” Katko said.

Alfredo Gomez is a director in the GAO’s natural resources and environment team. He says the review will include talking with people affected by the regulation plan.

“We are interviewing a variety of stakeholders across levels of government, interviewing commercial organizations, environmental groups, industry and we also do site visits when we’re doing audits, so we will go and visit the area as well,” Gomez said.

Gomez expects the GAO report to be released early next spring.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI News director.

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