U.S. House Committee Endorses Great Lakes Restoration in Budget

ANN ARBOR, MICH. (March 26, 2009)—The U.S. House Committee on the Budget last night passed its budget resolution that calls for a commitment 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.”

Budget committee members Reps. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) and Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) and Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) 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 Reps. Kaptur, Moore and Slaughter 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.”

“The Great Lakes are a prized natural resource and a significant economic engine for our country,” said Rep. Slaughter. “By investing in the protection and restoration of this national treasure, we will not only preserve the lakes for future generations but create jobs and bolster regional communities, industries, and economies. As co-chair of the Great Lakes Task Force, I am proud to support a serious commitment to defend the Great Lakes and strengthen our economy.” 

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, House leaders have urged for the inclusion of the new restoration fund in the Congressional budget. Great Lakes Task Force members from Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin sent a letter to House Budget Committee Chairman John Spratt, Jr. (D-S.C.) and ranking member Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), urging for the inclusion of lake restoration funding in the budget resolution.

Signatories to the letter include: Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), John Conyers (D-Mich.), Kathy Dahlkemper (D-Pa.), John D. Dingell (D-Mich.), Vernon Ehlers (R-Mich.), Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), Brian Higgins (D-N.Y.), Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.), Dale Kildee (D-Mich.), Carolyn Kilpatrick (D-Mich.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Dennis J., Kucinich (D-Ohio), Steven C. LaTourette (R-Ohio), Chris Lee (R-N.Y.), Sander M. Levin (D-Mich.), Gwen Moore (D-Wis.), James L. Oberstar (D-Minn.), Thomas Petri (R-Wis.), Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), Mark Schauer (D-Mich.), Louise M. Slaughter (D-N.Y.), Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), and Betty Sutton (D-Ohio).

Read the letter at: http://live-healthy-lakes.pantheon.io/site_upload/upload/HouseGLTFBudgetLtr_2009.pdf

“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 on-the-ground results for the millions of people who depend on the Great Lakes for their jobs, drinking water and public health 365 days a year.”

U.S. House members who serve on the Committee on Budget include: Reps. Kaptur, Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), Moore, Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Steve Austria (R-Ohio). The full House of Representatives 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.

For more information visit: http://live-healthy-lakes.pantheon.io/

For Immediate Release:
March 26, 2009

Jordan Lubetkin, Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition, (734) 887-7109, lubetkin@nwf.org

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