Coalition to Congress: Bolster Support for Great Lakes—Source of Drinking Water for 30 Million People

Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition

For Immediate Release:
February 16, 2011

Contact:
Jordan Lubetkin, Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition, 734-904-1589

Coalition to Congress: Bolster Support for Great Lakes—Source of Drinking Water for 30 Million People

‘Our job is to hold the line against cuts in the 2011 budget and work with Congress to robustly fund Great Lakes programs in 2012 budget.’

ANN ARBOR, MICH. (February 16, 2011) – The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition today urged the U.S. Congress to bolster its support for Great Lakes restoration programs that protect the drinking water, public health, jobs and way of life for millions of people.  The call for support comes as U.S. lawmakers finalize the current 2011 budget and embark on setting a 2012 budget.

“We are disappointed in the reductions in Great Lakes programs that protect the drinking water for 30 million people,” said Jeff Skelding, campaign director for the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. “Our job is to hold the line against cuts in the 2011 budget and work with Congress to robustly fund Great Lakes programs in the 2012 budget that protect drinking water, create jobs, safeguard public health and uphold the quality of life for millions of people. Slowing action now will allow the problems to get worse and cost more to solve.”

Two bellwether Great Lakes clean water programs face reductions in the congressional 2011 continuing resolution and in the 2012 White House budget.

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative—a precedent-setting initiative to clean up toxic pollution, confront invasive species like the Asian carp and restore habitat—was funded at $475 million in 2010. House appropriators are recommending funding the initiative at $225 million in the 2011 budget – a reduction of $250 million, a 52 percent cut. President Obama is recommending the initiative be funded at $350 million in fiscal year 2012—a reduction of $125 million, or 26 percent, from what was appropriated by Congress in fiscal year 2010.

The Clean Water State Revolving Fund—the nationwide program that helps communities stop sewage contamination—was funded at $2.1 billion in 2010. House appropriators are recommending funding the state revolving fund at $690 million in the 2011 budget – a reduction of $1.4 billion below last year’s levels. President Obama is recommending the initiative be funded at $1.55 billion in fiscal year 2012—a reduction of $550 million from fiscal year 2010.

The Great Lakes states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin receive, by formula, about 36 percent of Clean Water State Revolving Loan Funds. Great Lakes states received approximately $756 million in 2010 from the program.

Based on House continuing resolution funding levels, Great Lakes states would receive about $248 million in 2011 – a reduction of $508 million, or 67 percent cut from what was appropriated by Congress in fiscal year 2010. Based on White House 2012 budget funding levels, Great Lakes states would receive about $558 million in 2012, a reduction of $198 million, or 26 percent cut, from what was appropriated by Congress in fiscal year 2010.

“These budgets increase the time it will take to restore the Great Lakes,” said Andy Buchsbaum, co-chair of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition and the regional executive director of the National Wildlife Federation’s Great Lakes office. “Although these budgets do provide important funding, they will make our climb steeper and longer – particularly the House proposed budget.”

The outcome of the budget discussion in the nation’s capitol could have a profound impact on a region whose citizens, business leaders, industry, cities and states have united behind the accelerated clean-up of the Great Lakes as a means to advance economic recovery in the hard-hit region. Great Lakes activities produce jobs now by hiring engineers, landscape architects, construction workers and truck drivers—and lay the foundation for long-term prosperity.

A $1 investment in Great Lakes restoration produces at least $2 in economic benefit, according to the Brookings Institution. The region has already started to see inspiring results from restoration projects that are helping improve the lives of millions of people.

“Great Lakes restoration produces results and is one of the best investments on the dollar in the federal budget,” said Jill Ryan, co-chair of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition and executive director of Freshwater Future. “To make tangible progress in communities around the region, we have to have continued congressional funding. If the nation scales back its efforts now, progress on Great Lakes restoration slows and costs more.”

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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