ANN ARBOR, MICH. (February 12, 2015) – The Healing Our Waters Great Lakes Coalition is supporting a new bill in the U.S. Senate that would help bolster federal efforts to restore the Great Lakes, the source of 20 percent of the world’s surface fresh water, which provides drinking water to more than 30 million people. The legislation would authorize the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative at $475 million annually to help continue successful programs to clean up toxic pollution, combat invasive species, restore fish and wildlife habitat and reduce runoff from cities and farms.
The Great Lakes Ecological and Economic Protection Act of 2015, SB 504 was introduced today by U.S. Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.). Original co-sponsors also include Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), and Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.).
Commenting on the new legislation, Todd Ambs, campaign director for the Healing Our Waters Great Lakes Coalition, said:
“This bill will strengthen Great Lakes restoration efforts that are producing results for the environment and economy in communities across the region. We commend Sens. Baldwin, Kirk, and Stabenow, and other supporters of the Great Lakes Ecological and Economic Protection Act of 2015 for putting forward a bill that will help keep federal restoration efforts on track. We urge the full U.S. Senate to support and pass this bill.”
The Great Lakes Ecological and Economic Protection Act of 2015:
- Authorizes for five years the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative at $475 million annually;
- Re-authorizes the Great Lakes Legacy Act that helps communities clean up toxic hotspots;
- Re-authorizes the EPA’s Great Lakes National Program Office, which oversees federal restoration efforts;
- Permanently establishes the Great Lakes Advisory Board, which will recommend restoration priorities that federal agencies use when setting their budgets each year;
- Permanently establishes the federal Great Lakes Interagency Task Force to increase coordination between federal agencies, as well as coordination between federal agencies and non-federal stakeholders.