Advocates to Obama Administration, Congress: Maintain Great Lakes Restoration as a Priority 3-6-2013

Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition

For Immediate Release: March 6, 2013

WASHINGTON, D.C. — As the Obama Administration and U.S. Congress work to forge Carp Illinois RiverSilvera federal budget, more than 125 Great Lakes advocates are in the nation’s capitol today and tomorrow to urge public officials to maintain Great Lakes restoration and protection as a national priority.

“The nation cannot afford to stop protecting the Great Lakes, which are the source of drinking water for more than 30 million people,” said Jeff Skelding, director of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. “Restoration projects are producing results, but there’s more work to do. If we cut the funding now, it will cost us more later, because restoring the Great Lakes will only get harder and more expensive the longer we wait. We urge the Obama Administration and U.S. Congress to maintain funding at $300 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.”

The gathering of New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota citizens comes on the heels of a new report from the Coalition demonstrating how successful restoration projects are yielding positive results for the Great Lakes and communities that rely on these freshwater seas for drinking water, commerce and recreation.

Read the report at: http://bit.ly/WtLWR0

   Sturgeon-Fry-Baraboo-Releas   As part of the annual Washington, D.C., gathering, known as Great Lakes Days, Nancy Sutley, chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, is scheduled to provide a luncheon address to lakes supporters on March 6.

The push to maintain federal support for Great Lakes programs comes as automatic spending cuts are set to take effect due to the breakdown of federal budget negotiations. Without a resolution, the cuts—known as sequestration—will reduce investments in the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative from $300 million to around $275 million.

“Cutting restoration funds will not save American one penny,” said Skelding. “We can pay to clean up the lakes now—or a lot more later. Kicking the can down the road will only make projects harder and more expensive.”

Since 2009, the U.S. Congress and President Obama have invested $1 billion for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, a federal effort to clean up toxic pollution, combat invasive species like the Asian carp, restore habitat and reduce runoff from cities and farms. So far, restoration efforts have:

  • Restored sturgeon populations in Lake Huron and the Detroit River;
  • Removed tons of toxic sediments from rivers in Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin;
  • Bolstered the Atlantic salmon fishery in Lake Ontario;
  • Established the first Native American national park, on the shores of Lake Superior; and,
  • Advanced efforts to control invasive sea lamprey, which feast on native fish species.

 Despite progress in restoring all five Great Lakes, much work remains. Polluted runoff from cities and farms is spawning toxic algae blooms in Lake Erie and causing the lake’s dead zone to expand; outdated municipal sewage treatment facilities discharge billions of gallons of untreated sewage into the lakes annually; and Asian carp remain a threat to invade the lakes via the Chicago-area canals and other waterways in the region.

       Restoring the lakes is good for the region’s economy and the environment. Consider:

  • More than 1.5 million U.S. jobs are directly connected to the Great Lakes, generating $62 billion in wages annually.
  • Every $1 invested in Great Lakes restoration generates at least $2 in economic benefit and up to $4 in economic activity through new jobs, development, increased tourism and higher property values.
  • A $10 million restoration project at Muskegon Lake in Michigan produced more than $66 million in economic benefits—a 6-to-1 return on investment—through increased property values, more tourism and higher tax revenues.

“We understand the need for public officials to make budget priorities and invest taxpayer dollars wisely,” said Skelding. “Restoring the Great Lakes not only protects the source of drinking water for 30 million people, it may also be the best return on the federal dollar in the budget.”

The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition consists of more than 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. For more information visit http://www.healthylakes.org or follow us on twitter @healthylakes.

March 6 and March 7 Great Lakes advocates will be visiting the offices of U.S. senators and representatives, including:

Indiana

Sen. Dan Coats

Sen. Joseph Donnelley, Sr.

Rep. Susan Brooks

Rep. Larry Buchson

Rep. Andre Carson

Rep. Luke Messer

Rep. Todd Rokita

Rep. Marlin Stutzman

Rep. Pete J. Visclosky

Rep. Jackie Walorski

 Illinois

Sen. Richard Durbin

Sen. Mark Kirk

Rep. Danny Davis

Rep. Rodney Davis

Rep. Tammy Duckworth

Rep. Bill Foster

Rep. Randy Hultgren

Rep. Dan Lipinski

Rep. Aaron Schock

Michigan

Sen. Carl Levin

Sen. Debbie Stabenow

Rep. Dan Benishek

Rep. Dave Camp

Rep. John Conyers

Rep. John Dingell

Rep. Bill Huizenga

Rep. Dan Klidee

Rep. Sander Levin

Rep. Candice Miller

Rep. Gary Peters

Rep. Fred Upton

Minnesota

Sen. Amy Klouchar

Sen. Al Franken

Rep. Michele Bachman

Rep. Keith Ellison

Rep. John Kline

Rep. Betty McCollum

Rep. Rick Nolan

Rep. Collin Peterson

Rep. Erik Paulsen

Rep. Tim Walz

 Ohio

Sen. Sherrod Brown

Sen. Rob Portman

Rep. Joyce Beatty

Rep. Marcia Fudge

Rep. David Joyce

Rep. Marcy Kaptur

Rep. Jim Rennaci

Rep. Tim Ryan

New York

Sen. Chuck Schumer

Rep. Tim Bishop

Rep. Chris Collins

Rep. Joe Crowley

Rep. Eliot Engle

Rep. Chris Gibson

Rep. Richard Hanna

Rep. Brian Higgins

Rep. Steve Isreal

Rep. Peter King

Rep. Nita Lowey

Rep. Dan Maffei

Rep. Carolyn McCarthy

Rep. Charles Rangel

Rep. Tom Reed

Rep. Jose Serrano

Rep. Louise Slaughter

Rep. Nydia Velasquez

Pennsylvania

Sen. Bob Casey

Sen. Pat Toomey

Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick

Rep. Mike Kelly

Wisconsin

Sen. Ron Johnson

Rep. Sean Duffy

Rep. Ron Kind

Rep. Tom Petri

Rep. Reid Ribble

Rep. Paul Ryan

 

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