Friday, September 19, 2008

House Passes Great Lakes Legacy Reauthorization Act

Sep 18: Representative Vernon Ehlers (R-MI) praised the House passage of the Great Lakes Legacy Reauthorization Act (H.R. 6460), which he sponsored. The bill was approved by a vote of 371 to 20 which exceeded the two-thirds required under the suspended rules. Representative Ehlers indicated in a release that the Great Lakes Legacy Act is considered one the most effective Federal water cleanup projects ever. Ehlers introduced the bill along with Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman James Oberstar (D-MN) in July.

Ehlers said, “I am pleased that the House acted so quickly on this important bill. The Great Lakes are our region’s most valuable natural asset, and toxic sediment that is feeding into the lakes could cause irreparable harm. This bill creates a roadmap for funding that will ensure the polluted areas of concern that have been identified around the Great Lakes are cleaned up within the next ten years. Our goal of cleaning up these toxic sites is within reach, and we owe it to future generations to act now on cleaning them up.”

The renewal bill authorizes Congress to direct up to $150 million per year for the next five years to U.S. EPA to continue the Legacy Act cleanup program. The authorization was increased from $50 million per year in the previous bill because of the potentially high cost of cleaning up contaminated sediment once it is spread through the lakes. The new funding authorization would put the program on track to clean up every Area of Concern (AOC) within ten years.

Jeff Skelding, national campaign director for the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition said, "We applaud the U.S. House of Representatives -- especially Reps. James Oberstar and Vern Ehlers -- for passing this important and successful clean-up program. Cleaning up toxic pollution is essential to our public health, economy and way of life. We need the Senate to take quick action like they did with the Compact and reauthorize this critical program.”

Access a release from Representative Ehlers and link to previous releases (click here). Access legislative details for H.R 6460 (click here). Access a release from the HOW Coalition (click here).