Coalition: Bolster Federal Support for Great Lakes Programs

Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition

For Immediate Release:
February 14, 2011

Contact:
Jordan Lubetkin, Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition, 734-904-1589
Jeff Skelding, Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition, 410-245-8021

Statement on President’s 2012 budget; U.S. House 2011 continuing resolution

Coalition: Bolster Federal Support for Great Lakes Programs

Restoration process lengthened, costs increased under
budgets proposed by President Obama, U.S. House

‘Restoration faces a steep climb—steeper in the House’s budget than in the President’s.’

ANN ARBOR (Feb. 14, 2011) – President Barack Obama released his 2012 budget today, which contains $350 million  for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative – a reduction of $125 million from the 2010 budget of $475 million and an increase of $50 million from the amount the president requested for the 2011 budget.

The White House unveiled its budget for 2012 as the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations released a continuing resolution to complete the current 2011 budget. The resolution provides $225 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative—a reduction of $250 million from 2010 levels and $75 million below the amount the president requested in 2011. Congress needs to complete a budget by March 4, at which time the current continuing resolution expires.

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is widely hailed as re-igniting 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.

Responding to the White House budget and U.S. House continuing resolution, Jeff Skelding, campaign director for the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition, said:
“We appreciate President Obama’s ongoing support the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, even in a difficult budget climate.  We are concerned, however, that while the President’s $350 million request will allow us to make progress, it will be less than what we could achieve had the GLRI been funded at the higher level provided two years ago.

“The House faced a similar choice and even with strong support from the Great Lakes congressional delegation, the House Committee on Appropriations disappointedly chose to cut important Great Lakes funding even further from what the House and Senate supported last year.

“Great Lakes restoration faces a steep climb—steeper in the House’s budget than in the President’s. Cutting successful efforts to protect drinking water, safeguard public health, create jobs and improve the quality of life for millions of people is the wrong way to go.  Investing in efforts to restore the Great Lakes, a resource that more than 30 million depend on for drinking water, results in some of the best returns on the dollar in the federal budget.

“The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition has consistently advocated for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to be funded at $475 million since it was introduced in 2009 to confront the urgent threats of toxic pollution, invasive species such as the Asian carp and habitat destruction.

“Scaling back our efforts means it will take longer and cost more to address urgent threats to the Lakes, communities and businesses. It will also curtail potential job creation at a time when the region has united around Great Lakes restoration as a way to boost economic prosperity.

“Now that the President has released his 2012 budget request, we will turn our focus to the U.S. Congress who must enact funding levels that support the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative at $475 million in 2012 to protect our drinking water, jobs and way of life.”

The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition consists of more than 115 environmental, conservation, outdoor recreation organizations, zoos, aquariums and museums representing millions of people, whose common goal is to restore and protect the Great Lakes.

For more information, visit: healthylakes.org

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