Senate Committee Endorses $475 Million for Great Lakes Restoration in Budget

ANN ARBOR, MICH. (March 27, 2009)—The U.S. Senate Budget Committee yesterday passed its budget resolution that calls for a commitment of $475 million to restore the Great Lakes—the largest surface fresh water source in the world.

“This budget resolution charts a path for congressional action to restore the Great Lakes and revive the economy,” said Tom Kiernan, president of the National Parks Conservation Association and co-chair of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. “We look forward to the full House and Senate passing a budget that advances Great Lakes restoration and economic recovery before the problems get worse and the solutions more costly.”

Senate Budget Committee member Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) led the effort to include Great Lakes restoration funding in the budget resolution, which sets the framework for federal appropriations for the year.

“The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition applauds Sen. Stabenow for making Great Lakes restoration a priority in the congressional budget process,” said Andy Buchsbaum, regional executive director of the National Wildlife Federation’s Great Lakes office and co-chair of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. “This budget resolution sets the stage for strong federal action to restore the lakes and revive the economy. It’s imperative that Congress close the deal and fund these successful programs.”

“Our Great Lakes are an inseparable part of our history and culture, and provide us with an economic resource unique to our region,” said Sen. Stabenow. “That’s why I was proud to lead the effort and outline critical funding to combat the key threats facing our lakes and our way of life. I will continue to work closely with President Obama and his administration to make sure that the commitment made toward the Great Lakes becomes a reality.”

In February President Barack Obama released his proposed budget, including a precedent-setting $475 million Great Lakes restoration fund to address problems such as invasive species, habitat loss, and toxic pollution. 

Since that announcement, Senate leaders have urged for the inclusion of the new restoration fund in the Congressional budget. Great Lakes Task Force members from Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin sent a letter to Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) and ranking member Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), urging for the inclusion of lake restoration funding in the budget resolution.

Signatories to the letter include Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and George Voinovich (R-Ohio).

Read the letter at:

“Fully funding the President’s request will be a big step forward in the multi-year effort to restore the Great Lakes and revive the economy,” said Jill Ryan executive director of Freshwater Future and co-chair of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. “We need to make sure that the momentum being generated in the halls of Congress and the White House to restore the lakes lead to results for the millions of people who depend on the Great Lakes for their jobs, drinking water and public health 365 days a year.”

Sen. Russell D. Feingold (D-Wis.) also sits on the Senate Budget Committee. The full Senate is expected to vote on the budget resolution next week.

According to the Brookings Institution, an investment of $26 billion to restore the Great Lakes will lead to at least $50 billion in economic benefit for the region.

The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition consists of more than 100 zoos, aquariums, museums, and hunting, fishing, and environmental organizations representing millions of people, whose common goal is to restore and protect the Great Lakes.

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For Immediate Release:
March 27, 2009

Jordan Lubetkin, Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition, (734) 887-7109,

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