Congressman Walsh, Environmental Groups Push For Restoration of the Great Lakes

Congressman Walsh Announces Co-sponsorship of Great Lakes Collaboration Implementation Act

August 23, 2006 Rochester, New York — Congressman James T. Walsh (R-25th), joined by a number of the state’s leading conservation organizations, announced his support of new legislation to restore the Great Lakes by stopping invasive species introductions, halting sewage contamination, cleaning up toxic pollution and restoring wildlife habitat, and called on Congress to protect this magnificent resource which represents 95 percent of the nation’s fresh surface water.

“We must ensure the preservation of the Great Lakes and Lake Ontario,” said Rep. Walsh. “The lake’s health has a remarkable impact on our environment, recreation, and the local economy. Many different environmental pressures threaten Lake Ontario and the other Great Lakes. This federal legislation will promote the regional awareness and protections needed for our lake to become the vibrant resource we all desire. I’m proud to co-sponsor the Great Lakes Collaboration Implementation Act.”

The Great Lakes Collaboration Implementation Act (HR 5100) puts into practice priority recommendations of a $20 billion Great Lakes restoration strategy released in December as part of the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration, a planning process established by the President in 2004. This process brought together industry leaders, conservationists and a bipartisan group of local, state and federal officials, who are now urging Congress to restore the lakes without delay.

Congressman Walsh is leading a strong bi-partisan effort for this critical legislation, which identifies wellknown, manageable solutions to the Lakes’ most pressing problems, and lays out a comprehensive approach for the long-term restoration of the Great Lakes.

“Congressman Walsh has been a champion for many conservation causes and particularly for the restoration of the Great Lakes, and Audubon New York is proud to have his support for this important Act today,” said David J. Miller, Executive Director of Audubon New York. “As millions of State residents depend on the Great Lakes ecosystem everyday for agriculture, recreation, and for numerous other uses that are crucial for the regions economy and quality of life, we are at a critical crossroads for the restoration and long-term protection of the Lakes. We are thankful for Congressman Walsh’s leadership, which has helped to make the Great Lakes a congressional priority.”

“Restoring the Great Lakes should be a top priority for New York and our federal government,” said Robert Moore, Executive Director of Environmental Advocates of New York. “Congressman Walsh is to be commended for his hard work on behalf of the Great Lakes and the millions of New Yorkers who rely upon them.”

“From championing federal funding to revitalize Onondaga Lake to supporting Arctic National Wildlife Refuge protection, Congressman Walsh consistently recognizes the importance of our shared environment,” stated Dereth Glance, Program Director for Citizens Campaign for the Environment. “Congressman Walsh’s leadership to restore and protect the Great Lakes will positively impact our drinking water, recreational opportunities, water-dependent industries, and our region’s overall quality of life.”

“We applaud Congressman Walsh’s willingness to look at the big picture and take the long view in protecting the most important asset in our region – the Great Lakes,” said Great Lakes United Executive Director Derek Stack. “We thank Congressman Walsh for recognizing that if we do not invest in protecting that asset, we endanger not only our environmental quality of life but also our children’s economic future.”

“The Great Lakes Collaboration Implementation Act demonstrates exactly what can be accomplished when diverse groups within a community work together for a common goal,” said Cindy Stachowski, Executive Director of the Center for Environmental Information in Rochester. “The Center for Environmental Information commends Congressman Walsh for his continued support of restoration of the Great Lakes. Congressman Walsh’s commitment to the Great Lakes Collaboration Implementation Act separates gesture and sentiment from true commitment. Congressman Walsh continues to harness the synergy of local residents, businesses, community groups, environmental organizations and government in order to work together to benefit the health and well-being of our one of most prized natural resources, the Great Lakes.”

The Great Lakes Collaboration Implementation Act would:

  • Stop the introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species by enacting a comprehensive national program.
  • Prevent the Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes by authorizing the Corps of Engineers to maintain and operate the dispersal barrier on the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal and prohibit the importation and sale of Asian carp.
  • Restore fish and wildlife habitat by reauthorizing the Great Lakes Fish & Wildlife Restoration Act at $20 million. Prevent sewage contamination by reauthorize the State Revolving Loan Fund and provide $20 billion over five years to assist communities nationally with improving their wastewater infrastructure.
  • Clean up contaminated sediment under the Great Lakes Legacy Act by authorizing $150 million per year.
  • Phase out mercury in products by establishing a new grant program and improving existing research programs.
  • Coordinate and improve Great Lakes programs by establishing the Great Lakes Interagency Task Force and the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration process.

The Great Lakes comprise almost 95 percent of the nation’s surface fresh water and supply drinking water to more than 25 million U.S. and Canadian residents. The Great Lakes also support a diversity of birds and other wildlife, including a world-class fishery, maritime trade, industry, and agriculture. New York State, serving as the gateway to the Great Lakes, has historically been a leader in advancing the protection of the Great Lakes.

For more information, visit: www.restorethelakes.org

Audubon New York, the 50,000 member State program of the National Audubon Society, is dedicated to protecting birds and other wildlife and the habitats that supports them. Our national network of community-based nature centers and chapters, scientific and educational programs, and advocacy on behalf of areas sustaining important bird populations, engage millions of people of all ages and backgrounds in positive conservation experiences.

Citizens Campaign for the Environment (CCE) is an 80,000 member, non-profit, non-partisan, advocacy organization working to protect public health and the natural environment throughout New York State and Connecticut.

Environmental Advocates of New York is your government watchdog, holding state lawmakers and agencies accountable for enacting and implementing policy that protects natural resources and safeguards public health. Founded almost 40 years ago as the Environmental Planning Lobby, Environmental Advocates has more than 7,000 individual and 130 organizational members. The nonprofit organization is a 501© (3) and is the New York State affiliate of the National Wildlife Federation. For more information call 518.462.5526 or visit www.eany.org.

Great Lakes United is an international coalition promoting and coordinating basinwide initiatives to protect and restore the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River ecosystem.

The Center for Environmental Information, Inc. is a private, nonprofit, education organization, founded in Rochester, New York in 1974. CEI is dedicated to the environmental protection and sustainable use of New York’s Lake Ontario region and is one of the key partners with the Lake Ontario Coastal Initiative.

Contact:

Sean Mahar
Audubon New York
518-869-9731

Dereth Glance
Citizens Campaign
315-472-1339

Erica Ringewald
Environmental Advocates
518-426-5526

Reg Gilbert
Great Lakes United
716-886-0142

Cindy Stachowski
CEI
585-262-2870

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