Thursday, May 14, 2009

Groups Urge Congressional Support For Great Lakes Funding

May 14: Local, state, industry and conservation leaders called for the U.S. Congress to act to fund a new Great Lakes restoration and economic recovery initiative, unveiled last week with President Obama's budget [See WIMS 5/11/09]. Groups issuing a joint release included: Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition; Great Lakes Commission; Council of Great Lakes Industries; and the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative.

In announcing his budget last week, President Obama released details of a $475 million Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to address some of the most urgent threats to the Great Lakes, including: $146 million to clean up toxic substances and Areas of Concern; $60 million to prevent or remove aquatic invasive species; $97 million to improve near-shore health and pollution prevention; $105 million for habitat and wildlife protection and restoration; and $65 million to evaluate and monitor progress.

Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition co-chairman Andy Buchsbaum said, "This is a precedent-setting restoration initiative from the president that will give the Great Lakes the medicine they need. Now, we need Congress to fund it." Great Lakes Commission Board Member Sean Logan, director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources said, "This new federal support will match the substantial funding that state and local governments are already investing in the Great Lakes. Protecting and restoring the Great Lakes requires a strong partnership with the federal government. Ohio and our fellow Great Lakes states urge Congress to provide the requested funding."

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative invests in priorities that track closely with a comprehensive clean-up strategy that has won the endorsement of the eight-state region's mayors, governors, businesses, industry and environmental leaders -- in part because of the growing awareness of the economic benefit of restoring the Lakes. The groups said Great Lakes Senators and Representatives can play an important role in helping fund the initiative in the annual Congressional appropriations process.

Access a release including statements from other supporters (click here).