ANN ARBOR, MICH. (May 7, 2013) – As the federal budget-making process kicks into high gear, 74 groups from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York urged federal public officials to maintain support for programs helping to restore the Great Lakes—the largest source of surface fresh water in the country. In a letter to U.S. House and Senate appropriators, the groups urged officials to support the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative at $300 million.
“The strong support for Great Lakes programs stems from the effective and successful work we’re seeing in communities across the region,” said Chad Lord, policy director for the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. “There is a large body of evidence that Great Lakes programs are producing results, but there is more work to do. If we cut restoration funds, these serious problems will only get worse and the price we pay will be much higher.”
Strong Bipartisan Support
The letter from members of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition follows a strong show of bipartisan support for restoration programs from leaders in Congress. Recently, 38 House members signed on to a letter urging colleagues to maintain support for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative at $300 million. In the U.S. Senate, 11 members signed on to a similar letter.
Signatories to the House letter, which was led byReps. John Dingell (D-MI), Dan Benishek (R-MI), Louise Slaughter (D-NY), Sander Levin (D-MI), David Joyce (R-OH), included, Gwen Moore (D-WI), Brian Higgins (D-NY), Gary Peters (D-MI), John Conyers (D-MI), Marcia Fudge (D-OH), Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), Charles Rangel (D-NY), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Keith Ellison (D-MN), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Mark Pocan (D-WI), Thomas Petri (R-WI), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Paul Tonko (D-NY), Alcee Hastings (D-FL), Steve Israel (D-NY), Reid Ribble (R-WI), Dan Kildee (D-MI), Brad Schneider (D-IL), Richard Hanna (R-NY), Christopher Gibson (R-NY), Ron Kind (D-WI), and Dan Maffei (D-NY), Tim Walz (D-MN), Danny Davis (D-IL), Rick Nolan (D-MN), Bill Owens (D-NY), Tim Bishop (D-NY), Bill Johnson (R-OH), Collin Peterson (D-MN), Chris Collins (R-NY) and Andre Carson (D-IN).
Signatories to the Senate letter, which Sens. Carl Levin (D-MI), Mark Kirk (R-IL) led, included Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Al Franken (D-MN), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Joe Donnely (D-IN), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).
“Great Lakes restoration continues to unite people,” said Lord, “because projects benefit the environment and economy. We applaud the members of Congress who said funding for Great Lakes restoration is important to them by adding their names to these letters.”
Projects Benefit Economy
A Brookings Institution report shows that every $1 invested in Great Lakes restoration generates $2 in return, making Great Lakes restoration one of the best investments on the dollar in the federal budget. More recent research from Grand Valley State University suggests that the return for certain projects may be closer to 6-to-1. The University of Michigan has also demonstrated that over 1.5 million jobs are connected to Great Lakes, accounting for more than $60 billion in wages annually.
Over the last four years, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has invested more than $1.3 billion to restore wildlife habitat, clean up toxic pollution, combat invasive species like the Asian carp and reduce runoff from cities and farms. Projects are delivering results in rural and urban communities, as fish and wildlife are returning to places after decades-long absences; businesses are emerging and thriving on restored waterfronts; and people are fishing, kayaking and swimming in restored waterways.
“[W]e are seeing on-the-ground results,” states the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition letter. “However, while pressures on Congress to balance the U.S. budget will not diminish, neither will the urgent problems facing the Great Lakes.”
The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition consists of 120 environmental, conservation, outdoor recreation organizations, zoos, aquariums and museums representing millions of people, whose common goal is to restore and protect the Great Lakes. Learn more at www.healthylakes.org or follow us on Twitter @healthylakes.
CONTACT: Jordan Lubetkin, Lubetkin@nwf.org, (734) 904-1589