Update: Thanks to Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Paul Tonko (D-NY), Alcee Hastings (D-FL), and Steve Israel, (D-NY) for recently signing on!
U.S. Representatives John Dingell (D-MI), Dan Benishek (R-MI), Louise Slaughter (D-NY), Sander Levin (D-MI) and David Joyce (R-OH) are leading an effort to maintain funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative at $300 million in the fiscal year 2014 budget.
The group is asking U.S. House of Representatives colleagues to help fight cuts to the successful Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. The bipartisan group is circulating a letter for colleagues to sign on to.
So far, signatories include U.S. Reps. Gwen Moore (D-WI), Brian Higgins (D-NY), Gary Peters (D-MI), John Conyers (D-MI), Marcia Fudge (D-OH), Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), Charles Rangel (D-NY), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Keith Ellison (D-MN), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Mark Pocan (D-WI), Thomas Petri (R-WI), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Paul Tonko (D-NY), Alcee Hastings (D-FL), and Steve Israel (D-NY).
Great Lakes Restoration a Priority
“[We]believe Great Lakes restoration needs to remain a priority,” the letter states. It continues:
The Great Lakes are the world’s largest system of fresh surface water, providing drinking water for more than 30 million Americans. The Great Lakes are also an invaluable environmental and economic resource that produce immeasurable benefits for the region and the nation.
Public Officials Need to Deliver for Great Lakes
Congressional offices have until April 5 to sign on to the letter, which will then be sent to Michael K. Simpson (R-ID), chairman of the Subcommittee on the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations, and Jim Moran (D-VA), ranking member on the committee.
This is the time for the Great Lakes Congressional delegation to stand and deliver for the Lakes.
This is the time for public officials in the Great Lakes states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin to sign on to the letter.
This is the time for members of the Great Lakes Congressional Task Force—especially its co-chairs—to champion Great Lakes programs. Over the last three years, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has invested more than $1 billion into projects across the region. Projects are producing results, but there is more work to do.
Cuts Will Cost More Money
Great Lakes restoration programs have already taken steep budget cuts—the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative was reduced by almost a third, from $475 million to $300 million in previous years. If more budget cuts are made, critical restoration projects may end, stopping the cleanup of polluted sediment, allowing the further spread of invasive species, and slowing the creation of new jobs that put people to work restoring our Great Lakes.
Cutting funding will slow restoration efforts, allowing problems to get worse and more expensive to solve. Ultimately, cutting spending on the Great Lakes won’t save money—it will cost the nation more.