Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition
ANN ARBOR, MICH.—Today President Obama released his budget for 2010, which contains an additional $475 million for Great Lakes restoration and economic recovery.
The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition is examining the budget. The coalition will be holding a detailed briefing on the budget’s impacts on the eight Great Lakes states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin on Tuesday, May 12.
The coalition’s initial assessment of the budget is positive.
“President Obama’s budget charts a path forward to restore the Great Lakes and benefit the local economy,” said Tom Kiernan, president of the National Parks Conservation Association and co-chair of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. “The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition applauds the president and looks forward to working with the U.S. Congress to advance Great Lakes restoration before the problems get worse and the solutions get more costly.”
The White House budget “…requests $475 million for the Administration’s new Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. EPA will lead this interagency effort that will target resources to the most pressing environmental issues in the Great Lakes, such as aquatic invasive species, contaminated sediment, and nonpoint source pollution.”
Details of the White House budget can be found on page 2 of the EPA’s budget highlights at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/fy2010/assets/epa.pdf
“The president’s budget will inject $475 million of vital medicine into an ailing Great Lakes ecosystem and economy,” said Andy Buchsbaum, regional executive director of the National Wildlife Federation’s Regional Center. “These funds will provide the relief the lakes need by opening our beaches, stopping invasive species, cleaning up toxic pollution, and restoring wetlands. And they’re an investment that will help jumpstart our economy too.”
Attention now turns to federal appropriations committees to fund the restoration effort.
Rep. David Obey (D-Wis.) chairs the U.S. House Appropriations Committee, whose Great Lakes members include: Reps. Chaka Fattah (D-Penn.), Maurice D. Hinchey (D-N.Y.), Jesse L. Jackson, Jr. (D-Ill.), Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), Carolyn C. Kilpatrick (D-Mich.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Steve LaTourette (R-Ohio), Nita M. Lowey (D-N.Y.), Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), John P. Murtha (D-Penn.), Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), José Serrano (D-N.Y.) and Peter Visclosky (D-Ind.).
Senate Appropriations Committee members include Sens. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Arlen Specter (D-Penn.), and George Voinovich (R-Ohio).
“President Obama’s budget includes a significant down payment on 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 look forward to working with the Great Lakes Congressional delegation to make sure that we put people to work immediately on the highest priority restoration projects that benefit our communities and economy.”
Source of more than 90 percent of the nation’s surface fresh water, the Great Lakes are seriously threatened by problems such as sewage contamination, invasive species, toxic pollution and the loss of wetlands and other habitat. When the Lakes are unhealthy, it is a drain on the economy and it means fewer jobs for the region. Just as disturbing, unhealthy Lakes mean fewer people can enjoy beaches, fishing, waterways and clean drinking water.
“For years, I have been calling for additional Great Lakes restoration funding, and I am very pleased that President Obama is committing significant new funds for the Great Lakes,” said Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), who serves as co-chairman of the Great Lakes Task Force. “The lakes are so precious that it is our job to protect and restore them for future generations.”
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said: “The Great Lakes have been plagued by invasive species and decades of pollution that has resulted in frequent beach closings and warnings against consuming fish from its waters. Thousands of concerned citizens and elected officials have worked hard to reduce pollution and guarantee the health of the Lakes for generations to come. Today, President Obama is backing up that commitment with a significant investment into efforts that will preserve and protect this national treasure.”
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.
“Our Great Lakes are an inseparable part of our economy, history and culture, and must be protected,” said Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.). “I am pleased the president’s budget lays the foundation to combat dangerous threats to our lakes and communities such as invasive species, pollution, and contamination. Times are tough right now in Michigan, but our Great Lakes always provide us with an economic resource unique to our region, and this budget invests in that resource.”
Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) said: “I am very pleased that the president has made good on his promise to make the restoration and revitalization of the Great Lakes one of his top priorities. As co-chair of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force, I am focused on working with the administration and the Great Lakes delegation to advance restoration efforts in this critical region, and I will do everything I can to ensure that this funding remains in the FY2010 appropriations bills.”
Restoring the Great Lakes will benefit the region’s metropolitan areas, generating between $200 million to $7 billion in cities like Duluth, Minn., Detroit, Mich., Chicago, Ill., and Buffalo, N.Y.
“The Great Lakes are a prized natural resource and a significant economic engine for our country,” said Rep. Louise M. Slaughter (D-N.Y.). “By investing in the protection and restoration of this national treasure, we will not only preserve the lakes for future generations but create jobs and bolster regional communities, industries, and economies. As co-chair of the Great Lakes Task Force, I applaud President Obama’s serious commitment to defend the Great Lakes and strengthen our economy.”
The movement to restore the Great Lakes has been bolstered in recent months with the passage of a regional water management plan to ban water diversion from the Lakes and increased attention from both the White House and U.S. Congress.
“The president’s plan to boost funding for Great Lakes restoration could not come at a more important time,” said Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.). “Unprecedented water demand, the rise of invasive species and pollution all threaten the drinking water for more than 30 million Americans. As we look for ways to bring about an economic recovery, few things are more important than the Great Lakes – the economic engine and ecological crown jewel of the Midwest.”
The president’s initial budget outline—which included a new $475 million Great Lakes restoration initiative—received support in the budget framework Congress passed last week.
The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition consists of more than 100 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: http://healthylakes.org/
For Immediate Release: May 7, 2009
Contact: Jeff Skelding, Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition, (202) 797-6893
Chad Lord, Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition, (202) 454-3385
Jordan Lubetkin, Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition (734) 904-1589