The Great Waters Coalition launched to vivid enthusiasm among members of Congress who want to help restore this nation’s great waters. A number of these Congressmen and women appeared at the Great Waters launch to urge the newly formed coalition of nine of this nation’s restoration efforts to take the restoration message to their Hill colleagues because it is an issue that’s time has come.
“We need to do this,” said Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Wash) who heads up the Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior, “I’m glad this group has come together and I pledge my support and commitment to making your effort successful.” Dicks was instrumental in getting the $475 million Great Lakes Restoration Initiative through.
The Great Lakes is just one of the restoration efforts to join the coalition, the others include the Chesapeake Bay, the Florida Everglades, the Coast of Maine, the Coast of Louisiana, Puget Sound, Long Island Sound, the Mississippi River, San Francisco and the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. The purpose of the coalition is to make restoration a national priority and secure longterm sustainable funding for restoration. The coalition also hopes to be instrumental in getting restoration legislation enacted and implemented.
“Congress needs to hear from you – needs to hear that environmental restoration is important,” said Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD). The lawmaker who has worked to help efforts to restore the Chesapeake Bay said that this coalition is long overdue and that the timing of its launch is very strategic.
“This is our watch,” Rep. Cummings said, “we have come upon this earth at this moment and the question is will we leave it better than we found it? That is why this coalition is so important.”
But while the political stars are aligned with a sympathetic White House and eager Congress, it is also a time of severe economic hardship. Restoration can’t wait even though this nation is dealing with two wars, a recession and an aging population with a broken health care system. But these are all reasons why making restoration issues bigger by joining forces can help. “This is all connected, it can’t just be about my area and my district it has to be about the region – about the country,” said Rep. Mike Quigley a Democrat from Illinois.
Up until the advent of this coalition these nine restoration initiatives had been fighting each other for the same fiscal crumbs in Congress. “This is not the time to be parochial. That is what this coalition is all about. We’ve been parochial for far too long. Waters do not stop at borders. We are all connected,” said Rep. Schultz (D-Fla.) who has the Everglades in her district.
By joining forces and representing more than half the states and millions of Americans the coalition has a lot more influence when talking to Congress. The coalition also gives those who want to help us the votes they need to get the work done. It is heartening to realize there are so many supporters of restoration in the US Congress and this Administration. We have precious little time to get this work done, and as Rep. Cummings said, “we can’t stand on the side lines and fail to take advantage of this aligning of the starts.”