Last week Congressman Mark Kirk (R-IL) was busy fighting for the Great Lakes in the House Appropriations Committee. Rep. Kirk submitted an amendment to the FY 2008 Interior / EPA appropriations bill which said that of the $2 billion for Army Corps construction funds, $1.35 million shall be for the demonstration dispersal barrier (Barrier I) and $6.9 million shall be for the permanent barrier (Barrier II); and of the $126 million in O&M funds for the Great Lakes region, $500,000 shall be for each barrier (a total of $1 million).
His amendment faced an uphill battle because no earmarks were included in this bill for any member of Congress. Many Great Lakes advocates called House appropriators urging them to support the Kirk amendment. In the end, Kirk withdrew the amendment after reportedly securing assurances from committee leadership that they would work to secure funding for the barrier during House / Senate conference negotiations.
Kirk also worked to secure a $2M increase for the Great Lakes Legacy program funding from where the Interior / EPA aprops bill originally had the funding set ($35M). This represents a $7M increase from the FY 2007 funding for the program.
We commend Congressman Kirk for his efforts to boost funding for Great Lakes restoration, and encourage those of you in his district to thank him as well.