Monday, March 2, 2009

Canadian Enviros Decry Lack Of Great Lakes Funding

Mar 2: Canadian environmental organizations are applauding the Obama Administration leadership on Great Lakes issues on the U.S. side of the border, while harshly criticizing the Canadian Federal government. They say the last Canadian Federal budget did not even mention the Great Lakes.To the contrary, the point out that the White House announced its proposed budget for 2010 last week, including a 34 percent increase in funding for U.S. EPA and an extra $475 million in Great Lakes restoration [See WIMS 2/26/09]. Derek Stack, Executive Director of Great Lakes United, responding to Prime Minister Harper’s recent publicity blitz of New York City said, “What we need to see from Stephen Harper is a national investment in the Great Lakes, not the Manhattan theatrics that he is passing off as Canada-U.S. relations. This is the same cycle we’ve seen for years -- the U.S. commits hundreds of millions of dollars to the Great Lakes and Ottawa does nothing.”

They said, during the presidential campaign, Obama pledged to create a $5 billion fund to jumpstart the recovery of the Great Lakes [See WIMS 9/16/08]. The budget package signals a commitment to following through on this pledge. It also comes in the wake of Great Lakes Day [See WIMS 2/26/09], an annual event that brings environmental and conservation groups to Washington DC, to press the need for renewal of the region. Aaron Freeman, Policy Director of Environmental Defence said, “This is a serious budget commitment, and one that is in stark contrast to that of our own Federal government, which has earmarked virtually nothing for Great Lakes clean up. It is clear that the Obama administration understands that environment and economy are two sides of the same coin. In Canada, our federal politicians seem mired in a totally outdated ‘environment versus economy’ mentality.”

Access a joint release from the groups (click here).