If there were a “Great Laker of the week” award, Rep. Jim Oberstar (D-Minn) would get it for using his leadership to triple the funding in the Great Lakes Legacy Act to clean up toxic hot spots around the Lakes.
Oberstar and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved the Water Quality Financing Act of 2009 yesterday authorizing $150 million annually for five years for the Legacy Act.
“We applaud Rep. James Oberstar and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for increasing the authorization for this important and successful clean-up program,” said Jeff Skelding, national campaign director for the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. “Cleaning up toxic pollution benefits our public health, economy and way of life.”
The water bill also provides $13.8 billion over the next fie years for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (to update sewers) and $1.8 billion for the EPA to grant to projects addressing combined sewage overflows and storm water overflows.
This bill tackles some of the biggest threats to the lakes, from sewage contamination to toxic pollution,” said Skelding. HOW has sent a letter to Oberstar showing our support but also our concerns that the bill does not advocate green infrastructure solutions by creating a permanent set aside in the SRF and we would rather see a greater focus on the need to fix existing water infrastructure first. Because of these concerns, HOW is supporting an amendment to the bill being offered by Donna Edwards that addresses these concerns. The bill will now make its way to the House floor.
“The onus in now on the full House and Senate to pass and fund these successful programs so that we can restore the Great Lakes and revive our economy before the problems get worse and the solutions more costly,” stated Skelding.