The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition today sent letters to leading U.S. House and Senate appropriators, urging them to fund Great Lakes Restoration Initiative at $475 million for fiscal year 2012.
The coalition is sending the letters to Sens. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), chair and ranking member, respectively, on the Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies, Committee on Appropriations.
The coalition also sent the letter to Reps. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) and Jim Moran (D-Va.), chair and ranking member, respectively, on the Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies, Committee on Appropriations.
The letters to House and Senate leaders state:
“The [Great Lakes Restoration Initiative] – and you – have provided the Great Lakes region with much needed support, and we are seeing on-the-ground results. However, while pressures on Congress to balance the U.S. budget will not diminish, neither will the problems facing the Great Lakes. If we wait and allow restoration efforts to slow, these serious problems will only get worse and the price we pay will be much higher.”
The coalition’s push to robustly fund the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative comes as the U.S. Congress embarks on the 2012 budget process—with both Republicans and Democrats setting out to prove that they are making smart choices with taxpayer money.
Economic Benefit of Great Lakes Restoration
Against this backdrop, the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition has asserted that investments to restore the Great Lakes are some of the best investments on the dollar in the federal budget.
Just days ago, economists at Grand Valley State University released a study finding that a $10 million restoration project in western Michigan is expected to produce more than $66 million in economic benefit for the community—a 6-to-1 return on investment.
Said Jeff Skelding, campaign director of the Healing Our Water-Great Lakes Coalition:
“Great Lakes restoration projects are already producing results—and there is much more yet to do. Now is not the time to scale back our nation’s commitment to the Lakes. We look forward to working with the U.S. Congress to fund the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative at $475 million to protect our drinking water, jobs, public health and way of life.”
The letters to U.S. House and Senate leaders warn against cuts to the program:
“Ultimately, cutting spending on the Great Lakes won’t save money—it will cost the nation more. As the source of drinking water for 30 million people, the nation cannot afford not to protect and restore the Great Lakes.”
Chad Lord, policy director for the coalition, said:
“Our message to Congress is that fiscal responsibility and Great Lakes restoration go hand-in-hand. There is a reason why the region’s businesses, industry, public officials and environmentalists have rallied behind the restoration of the Great Lakes: Investments in the Great Lakes are good for the environment and the economy.”