Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition

Lindsey Bacigal, BacigalL@nwf.org, (734) 887-7113
Jordan Lubetkin, Lubetkin@nwf.org, (734) 904-1589

Advocates Urge Congress to Support Great Lakes, Climate Priorities
Coalition meetings with D.C. lawmakers come as Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report underscores need to take aggressive action to confront climate crisis.

ANN ARBOR, MICH. (February 28, 2022)—Restoring the Great Lakes, fixing water infrastructure, and confronting climate change are top priorities for Great Lakes advocates, who will be meeting with members of Congress via dozens of virtual meetings this week as part of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition’s annual Great Lakes Days February 28-March 4.

“Our message to federal officials is simple: We’re making progress, but there’s a lot more work to do,” said Laura Rubin, director of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. “We cannot let our guard down at a time when many communities are still struggling with polluted water, sewage overflows, toxic contamination, and dangerous flooding. Climate change is making these problems worse. We look forward to working with members of Congress to support solutions to restore our Great Lakes, protect our drinking water, and confront the climate crisis, while helping the communities that have been most impacted by health-threatening pollution.”

The annual week of meetings with members of Congress comes as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is releasing a new report emphasizing the serious damage climate change is causing. The report notes that the large-scale restoration of habitat, wetlands, and floodplains in regions like the Great Lakes can buffer communities from some of the impacts of a warming climate; although these actions must be accompanied by efforts to drive down carbon pollution to prevent the worst impacts. The severe storms and erratic weather are already impacting the Great Lakes and communities (read the Coalition’s climate factsheet for more information), and tackling climate change is a top priority for the Coalition.

“Federal support for restoring the Great Lakes must go hand in hand with national action to curb climate pollution,” said Rubin. “Both are needed if we are to protect our environment, economy, and public health. Unfortunately, the communities most impacted by water pollution also continue to be disproportionately impacted by climate change, from increased flooding to hazardous air pollution. We urge members of Congress who have championed Great Lakes restoration over the years to urgently take steps to confront the climate crisis. Inaction will only make the problems worse and more expensive to solve.”

The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition is asking members of Congress to:

  • Fund efforts to restore and protect the Great Lakes at no less than $400 million in fiscal year 2023 through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.
  • Fund efforts to help communities prepare for and adopt to climate change through a host of initiatives that support farm conservation programs ($27 billion), replace lead service lines to homes ($9 billion), boost coastal resilience ($6 billion), and reverse environmental injustices ($5 billion) in fiscal year 2023.
  • Fund essential water infrastructure programs that support community drinking water infrastructure ($4.4 billion) and wastewater infrastructure ($3.9 billion) in fiscal year 2023, as well as prioritize grants, rather than loans, to take the burden off cash-strapped communities and residents who are seeing skyrocketing water bills.
  • Strengthen clean water protections by establishing pollution limits for toxic pollutants such as PFAS and other chemicals that threaten the health of people.

Read the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition’s policy priorities list and the full list of funding priorities for more information.

Since 2004, the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition has been harnessing the collective power of more than 170 groups representing millions of people, whose common goal is to restore and protect the Great Lakes. Learn more at HealthyLakes.org or follow us on Twitter @HealthyLakes.