Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Groups Fearful Of Great Lakes Funding Cuts

Feb 7: The Healing Our Waters (HOW)-Great Lakes Coalition called on the U.S. Congress to maintain funding for successful Great Lakes programs that protect drinking water, safeguard public health, create jobs and uphold a way of life for millions of people. Jeff Skelding, campaign director for HOW said, "Great Lakes restoration efforts supported by the federal government are improving the lives of millions of Americans in the Great Lakes region. Restoration programs deliver results and offer some of the best returns on the dollar in the federal budget. Cutting Great Lakes funds only stalls action making the problems worse and more costly to solve. We urge Congress to fund the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) at $300 million in 2011 to protect our drinking water, public health, jobs and way of life." In 2010 with support from Congress the GLRI was funded at $475 million. President Obama requested $300 for the current fiscal 2011 year, which runs through September 30.

     The group indicated that the GLRI has been widely hailed as kick-starting the nation's effort to restore the Great Lakes -- a resource that more than 30 million people depend on for their drinking water. The initiative funds solutions to some of the most urgent threats to the lakes, including toxic contamination, polluted run-off, aquatic invasive species, and loss of habitat and wetlands. According to a release, "As Congress works to finalize its budget, the stakes are high for the Great Lakes states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin -- which stand to lose thousands of jobs and face more environmental and economic challenges if the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is cut. Currently, the region's states are putting people to work as part of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and are starting to see results from activities to restore the Lakes . . ."

    The Coalition, which consists of over 115 organizations, cited a number of examples of GLRI projects and indicated that Great Lakes restoration activities produce $2 for every $1 investment, according to the Brookings Institution. Restoration projects employ people in a variety of fields, from hydrologists to engineers, landscape architects to truck drivers and more. Restoration projects create jobs now and lay the foundation for long-term prosperity.

    Access a release from HOW (click here).

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