In the wee hours of the night, hidden beneath the gunfire erupting over the collapsing financial markets, the US Senate struck down the Great Lakes Congressional Delegation’s attempt to quicken the clean-up of our drinking water. The US Senate approved the Great Lakes Legacy Act at the current rate of $50 million for the next two years. The US House voted 411 to 9 on Sunday in favor of the Senate’s version to ensure that the clean-up doesn’t stop all together. The reauthorization awaits President Bush’s signature.
The House had vigorously tried to triple the funding of the very successful Great Lakes Legacy Act to $150 million. In the last five years, the act successfully remediated and delisted two Areas of Concern. Members had calculated that increasing the funding would ensure that all the AOC’s would be cleaned up in the next ten years. The program is vital to the region as the poisons in the AOC’s make their way into the Great Lakes, then into our drinking water and into our fish and wildlife, and that impacts human health.
Apparently, the Senators from outside the Great Lakes opposed the increase in funding, but our Senators and House members did not let us down. Usually reauthorizations are for five years and since the Senate version only appropriates the money for two more years it means that Congress will be able to bring up the funding levels in the near future. Let’s pray that we can increase funding at that point.