Next president must protect drinking water for 40 million people, jobs of 1.5 million people in eight-state region.
ANN ARBOR, MICH. (March 2, 2016) – Business, industry, and conservation leaders joined mayors and a state organization today in urging presidential candidates to commit to restoring and protecting the Great Lakes—a resource that provides drinking water to more than 40 million people in the United States and Canada. Millions more depend on the Lakes for their health, jobs, and way of life.
The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition, Council of Great Lakes Industries, Great Lakes Metro Chambers Coalition, Great Lakes Commission, and Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Cities Initiative today sent a Great Lakes platform to candidates Ben Carson, Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz, John Kasich, Marco Rubio, Bernie Sanders, and Donald Trump, asking the White House aspirants to maintain at least $300 million-per-year in federal investment to protect and restore the Great Lakes and to better the region’s environment and economy.
The platform reads: “Protecting and restoring the Great Lakes for the 40 million people who depend on them for drinking water in the United States and Canada, millions who enjoy outdoor recreation on the Lakes, and 1.5 million people whose jobs are directly connected to the Great Lakes will be a priority for my administration.” Read the platform here: http://www.healthylakes.org/2016-platform/
Release of the platform comes as the Great Lakes states begin holding primaries in Michigan (March 8), Ohio and Illinois (March 15), Wisconsin (April 5), New York (April 19), Pennsylvania (April 26), and Indiana (May 3). (Minnesota held its caucus March 1.) Republican candidates will be in Detroit, Mich., for a March 3 debate. Democratic candidates visit Flint, Mich., on March 6 for their next debate.
Presidential leadership has been essential in recent efforts to restore the Great Lakes. Former President George W. Bush in 2004 brought the eight-state region together to craft a plan to address threats posed by toxic pollution, habitat destruction, polluted runoff, sewage contamination, invasive species, and other stressors. In 2008 President Obama committed to fund the plan to help put an end to beach closures, drinking water restrictions, and fish consumption advisories that for years had plagued parts of the region.
This presidential leadership—combined with a strong commitment by the U.S. Congress—has helped make Great Lakes restoration a federal priority for Republicans and Democrats. At a time of intense partisan divide, Great Lakes restoration has remained a strong bi-partisan issue that has led to real results for the millions of people in the Great Lakes region. Over the last seven years, the federal government has invested over $2.2 billion to support more than 2,900 local projects in the eight-state region that have put people to work to protect drinking water, keep beaches open, restore waterfronts, and support a robust outdoor recreation economy.
But the drinking water crisis in Flint, Mich., and 2014’s toxic algal bloom in western Lake Erie that halted delivery of drinking water for more than 400,000 people in and around Toledo, Ohio, for three days, has underscored the need for a sustained long-term commitment to tackle ongoing threats to the Great Lakes, people, communities, and businesses.
The “Great Lakes Protection and Restoration Presidential Platform” asks candidates to support funding for federal Great Lakes restoration efforts, including waste water and drinking water infrastructure; action to curb harmful algal blooms; and other necessary investments to help the region’s environment and economy, such as investments in the region’s locks, ports, and harbors.
The partners releasing the Great Lakes platform today are neither endorsing, nor opposing, any presidential candidate. You can download a recording of the tele-press conference here.
Groups releasing the platform said:
Todd Ambs, campaign director, Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition, 130-member Coalition of environmental, conservation, outdoor recreation organizations, zoos, aquariums and museums representing millions of people, whose common goal is to restore and protect the Great Lakes.
“Millions of people are counting on the next president of the United States to stand up for the Great Lakes. Federal restoration investments are producing results in communities around the region—but there is more work to do. We need the next president to keep federal restoration efforts on track. The nation cannot afford to stop protecting the Great Lakes, because restoration efforts will only become more difficult and expensive the longer we wait.”
Ed Wolking, executive director for the Great Lakes Metro Chambers Coalition, a coalition of more than 35 chambers of commerce around the region dedicated to working with the federal government to strengthen the Great Lakes economy.
“Great Lakes restoration is a catalyst for job creation and economic development. The Great Lakes is the defining asset of a great trading region that, if it were a country, would be the third-largest economy in the world with output in the range of $6 trillion. The businesses and people of our bi-national region depend heavily on the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence system for their water, their quality of life, and their supply chain relationships. And in turn, so do the United States and Canada.”
Kathryn Buckner, president, Council of Great Lakes Industries, a membership organization of large Canadian and U.S. companies and associations committed to sustainable development in the Great Lakes region.
“Presidential candidates who want to support the region’s manufacturing and industrial base need to embrace the restoration and protection of the Great Lakes. Federal policy and investment that support the sustainable use of Great Lakes water resources will support a healthy and competitive regional economy.”
Tim Eder, executive director, Great Lakes Commission, an interstate compact agency that promotes the development, use and conservation of the water and related natural resources of the Great Lakes basin and St. Lawrence River.
“Our bi-national region is one of the largest economies in the world and over 1.5 million jobs are directly connected to the lakes. Investing in restoration, community re-development and infrastructure for clean water and navigation is a solid investment for the environment and economy. We stand ready and willing to help the next president partner with states to keep revitalization efforts on track.”
David Ullrich, executive director of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, a binational coalition of over 120 U.S. and Canadian mayors and local officials, collectively representing over 17 million people, working to advance the protection and restoration of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River.
“Cities across the region are counting on the next president to make Great Lakes a priority so that we can maintain momentum. Local officials are on the front lines. For years they had to deal with the challenges of unhealthy waters. Now they are seeing progress. That needs to continue. And it starts with presidential leadership.”