Coalition Calls on Congress to Maintain Momentum on Great Lakes Restoration

ANN ARBOR, MICH. (April 15, 2013) – Following the release of the Obama Administration’s 2014 budget, the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition is urging the U.S. Congress to maintain support for Great Lakes programs that are protecting drinking water, safeguarding public health, creating jobs and upholding the quality of life for millions of people in the region.

President Obama’s budget keeps Great Lakes restoration on track,” said Chad Lord, policy director for the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. “The budget acknowledges that restoration projects are producing results, but there is more work to do. We look forward to working with the Obama Administration and U.S. Congress to ensure the nation continues to invest in the economic and ecological health of the Great Lakes.”

Great Lakes Funding Maintained
The Obama Administration’s fiscal year 2014 budget request of $300 million matches the $300 million appropriated in the fiscal year 2012 budget. Over the last four years, President Obama and the U.S. Congress have invested more than $1.36 billion through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to clean up toxic pollution to protect the health of people and wildlife; restore fish and wildlife habitat to support the region’s outdoor recreation industry; fight invasive species like the Asian carp to protect the region’s $7 billion sport and commercial fisheries; and prevent farm and urban runoff to protect human health and keep beaches open.

Sewage Funding Cut
The Obama Administration slashes funding to the Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund, a federal program that provides low-interest loans to urban and rural communities to modernize and fix their waste water infrastructure. The Obama Administration’s fiscal year 2014 budget request of $1.095 billion for the Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund represents a cut of more than 25 percent from the $1.468 billion appropriated in the fiscal year 2012 budget.

The program allocates funding to states by formula. Based on the administration’s budget request, the eight Great Lakes states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin would receive about $398 million in funding, a reduction of more than $135 million from the $533 million enacted in the 2012 budget. (See chart of state-by-state allocations at the end of release.)

Restoring the Great Lakes hinges on whether we can stem the epidemic of sewage overflows,” said Joel Brammeier, co-chair of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition and CEO and President of the Alliance for the Great Lakes. “At a time when communities are facing a staggering backlog of work to maintain their wastewater infrastructure, the nation needs to increase—not cut—these investments, which are good for the environment and economy.”

Bipartisan Leaders to Make Push
Release of the president’s budget comes as a bipartisan group of 37 public officials in the U.S. House of Representatives are calling on fellow lawmakers to support the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative at $300 million in fiscal year 2014. Led by U.S. Reps. John Dingell (D-MI), Dan Benishek (R-MI), Sander Levin (D-MI), Louise Slaughter (D-NY) and David Joyce (R-OH), the group is sending a letter to House appropriators urging them to maintain funding to the successful initiative. Read the letter and signatories in each state.

The letter is the latest indication that Great Lakes restoration—an issue championed by both presidents George Bush and Barack Obama—continues to unite people regardless of party.

Great Lakes restoration continues to be a bipartisan national priority,” said Lord. “And that needs to continue. The nation cannot afford to stop protecting the Great Lakes. More than 30 million people depend on them for their drinking water. If we cut funding now, it will only cost more later, because projects will only get harder and more expensive the longer we wait.”

State-specific information: Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund Investments

 State 2012 Funding 2014 request Reduction
IL $ 66,206,800  $ 49,384,500  $16,822,300
IN  $  35,232,000  $ 26,280,000  $  8,952,000
MI  $ 62,977,200  $ 46,975,500  $ 16,001,700
MN  $ 26,864,400  $ 20,038,500  $ 6,825,900
NY  $ 161,626,800  $ 120,559,500  $ 41,067,300
OH  $ 82,501,600  $ 61,539,000  $ 20,962,600
PA  $ 57,986,000  $ 43,252,500  $ 14,733,500
WI  $ 39,636,000.00  $ 29,565,000.00  $ 10,071,000.00
TOTAL  $ 533,030,800  $ 397,594,500  $ 135,436,300

 NOTE ABOUT HOW THE COALITION IS COMPARING FEDERAL FUNDING NUMBERS: The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition is comparing the Obama Administration’s 2014 budget request versus enacted fiscal year 2012 numbers. The reason: The 2012 budget numbers are the ones being used by federal agencies such as the EPA in the rollout of the president’s budget to compare to previous fiscal expenditures (likely due to the relatively recent conclusion of the 2013 budget and across-the-board cuts due to sequestration).

The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition consists of 120 environmental, conservation, outdoor recreation organizations, zoos, aquariums and museums representing millions of people, whose common goal is to restore and protect the Great Lakes. Learn more at www.healthylakes.org or follow us on Twitter @healthylakes.

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