ANN ARBOR, MICH. (Sept. 10)—Great Lakes advocates are gathering at the 4th Annual Great Lakes Restoration Conference in the electoral battleground state of Wisconsin Sept. 10-12 to urge presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama and the U.S. Congress to restore the lakes—the foundation of the region’s economy.
Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle is providing the keynote address to the conference—the largest gathering of Great Lakes advocates, elected officials and business leaders.
“The Great Lakes are a national treasure—important to our state, our nation and the world as both an environmental and economic asset,” said Gov. Doyle. “In addition to defining our borders and the shape of Wisconsin, Lake Michigan and Lake Superior define who we are. They define our economy, our recreation, our way of life. They are why so many people choose to live in the Midwest, raise their kids here, take a vacation here, or locate their business here. We must do all we can to protect, preserve and improve this natural resource for generations to come.”
The conference comes as presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama battle for essential votes in battleground states—five of them in the Great Lakes region: Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
“Residents of the Great Lakes states are looking to the next president and Congress to restore our Great Lakes within five years to protect the local economy, our drinking water, national parklands, and way of life,” said Tom Kiernan, president of the National Parks Conservation Association and co-chair of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition.
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, who will address the conference, said: “In Milwaukee, we are truly blessed by our location on America’s Fresh Coast. Water defines us. The Great Lakes are critical to our health, recreation, economy, trade and quality of life. It is important for the next Administration to restore the health of the Great Lakes and protect this vital resource for generations to come.”
The theme for the Great Lakes Restoration Conference is “New Leadership, Real Success.” Policy staff from the 2008 presidential campaigns have been invited to address their candidates’ environmental and Great Lakes platforms. Conference attendees will develop a 2009 policy agenda for both Congress and the next president.
“We want to set the stage for the next White House and Congress to make Great Lakes restoration a national priority,” said Andy Buchsbaum, director of the Great Lakes office of the National Wildlife Federation and co-chair of the Coalition. “We’re looking for the next president to act without delay to restore a resource that millions of people, businesses and communities depend on, because every day we wait, the problems get worse and more costly. We have solutions. It is time to use them.”
According to the Brookings Institution, restoring and protecting the Great Lakes would generate between $80 billion and $100 billion in economic benefit to the region. Milwaukee stands to gain more than $1.5 billion due to increased economic development, home values, tourism, fishing and recreation from the restoration of the lakes.
“The Great Lakes are a tremendous economic and environmental asset to the nation that has drawn increasing national attention due to the electoral and economic significance of the region,” said Jill Ryan, executive director for Freshwater Future and new co-chair of the Coalition. “The challenge for us is to maintain the spotlight on the Great Lakes after Nov. 4 so that the millions of people who depend on the lakes 365 days a year will have a champion in the White House and Congress who will act in their best interests.”
The 4th Annual Great Lakes Restoration Conference is sponsored by the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition, which is pushing for the implementation of a comprehensive $20 billion federal plan to restore the lakes by preventing sewage contamination, stopping invasive species introductions, cleaning up toxic pollution and restoring wetlands and other habitat.
The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition consists of more than 100 zoos, aquariums, museums, and hunting, fishing and environmental organizations representing millions of people, whose common goal is to restore and protect the Great Lakes.
For more information, visit: http://healthylakes.org
For Immediate Release:
September 10, 2008
Jordan Lubetkin, (734) 904-1589, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jeff Skelding, (410) 245-8021, JSkelding@nwf.org