House Triples Authorization for Great Lakes Toxic Clean-up in Bill

ANN ARBOR, MICH. (March 12, 2009) – On the heels of President Obama’s announcement of an unprecedented $475 million Great Lakes restoration fund in his budget, the U.S. House of Representatives today passed a bill that triples the authorization from $54 million to $150 million of a program to clean up toxic pollution in the lakes.

The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition praised passage of the bill, the Water Quality Investment Act of 209 (H.R. 1262), which passed by a vote of 317 to 101.

“We applaud Rep. James Oberstar and the U.S. House of Representatives for increasing the authorization for this important and successful clean-up program,” said Tom Kiernan, President of the National Parks Conservation Association and co-chair of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. “The onus in now on the Senate to pass the bill and Congress to begin funding these successful programs to restore the Great Lakes and revive our economy before the problems get worse and the solutions more costly.”

Passage of the act in the U.S. House of Representatives follows the unveiling of President Obama’s 2010 budget, which contains $475 million to restore the Great Lakes – the largest commitment to Great Lakes restoration in a president’s budget in history.

“Our number one priority is to ensure that the president’s commitment to restore the Great Lakes is matched by Congress, and this action is a great start,” said Andy Buchsbaum, regional executive director of the National Wildlife Federation’s Great Lakes office and co-chair of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. “Great Lakes restoration and economic recovery go hand-in-hand, and we need to make sure that the momentum being generated in our nation’s capitol translates into results for the millions of people who depend on this vital national resource.”

In addition to authorizing the Great Lakes Legacy Act for over $150 million per year for five years, the Water Quality Investment Act of 2009 authorizes $13.8 billion over five years for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund and $2.5 billion for EPA grants to address combined sewage overflows and storm sewer overflows.

“Fully funding these programs to tackle toxic pollution and sewage contamination will be a good first step in the multi-year effort to restore the Great Lakes and revive the economy,” said Jill Ryan, executive director of Freshwater Future and co-chair of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. “We have effective solutions to restore the Great Lakes, revive the economy and safeguard public health. It’s time to use them.”

According to the Brookings Institution, an investment of $26 billion to restore the Great Lakes will lead to at least $50 billion in economic benefit for the region.

The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition consists of more than 110 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: http://healthylakes.org/

For Immediate Release: March 12, 2009

Contact: Jeff Skelding, Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition, (410) 245-8021
Chad Lord, Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition, (202) 454-3385
Jordan Lubetkin, Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition, (734) 887-7109

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