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E-M:/ Legislative Alert on funding for Great Lakes Areas of Concern



 
 ** LEGISLATIVE ALERT **

Take action NOW to protect federal funding for cleaning up Great Lakes Areas of Concern!

Dear Colleagues:

I am writing to ask for your help in protecting U.S. EPA’s ability to support cleanup efforts in Great Lakes Areas of Concern. The U.S. Senate is expected to consider EPA’s fiscal year 2004 appropriations any day now. There are two items of specific interest to the AOCs:

1)  funding for the Great Lakes Legacy Act; and

2)  language to protect the Great Lakes National Program Office’s (GLNPO) budget from internal budget reductions that would severely impact its ability to fund Great Lakes restoration activities.

Additional details on these two critical issues are provided at the end of this message.

We expect amendments to be offered on these issues during the Senate debate on EPA’s budget. Since the House has already passed its EPA appropriations bill, it is vital that these issues be addressed in the Senate bill (and ultimately accepted in the House-Senate conference committee to follow).

Now is the time for local stakeholders involved in AOC work to contact their federal Senators and ask for their support for amendments that will maintain EPA’s ability to fund cleanup work in the AOCs.

Please call or fax a letter to your federal Senator as soon as possible asking for their support (see below for key points to emphasize). The Senate is moving quickly on the EPA spending bill, so time is of the essence. Correspondence sent by mail will not arrive in time; please contact your Senator by phone, or fax a letter to their Washington, DC office.

Thanks for your help in maintaining federal support for AOC cleanup efforts. If you have questions, contact me at the Great Lakes Commission at 734-971-9135, mdoss@glc.org.

Matt Doss
Program Manager
Great Lakes Commission


Great Lakes Legacy Act

BACKGROUND: This legislation, passed in 2002, provides funding to clean up contaminated sediments in the AOCs. It addresses the most common cause of environmental degradation in the AOCs and is vital to meeting the federal government’s obligations under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. President Bush requested $15 million in FY 2004 for the Great Lakes Legacy Act. The House and Senate have both recommended $10 million for the Legacy Act in their appropriations bills. The House has passed its EPA spending bill and the full Senate will debate its EPA bill next week.

WHAT WE WANT: Support the President’s budget request of $15 million for the Great Lakes Legacy Act. While the legislation authorizes $54 million annually, the President’s request of $15 million is an important down payment for the program.

Great Lakes National Program Office budget

BACKGROUND: The House and Senate EPA spending bills both provide $15.4 million for GLNPO’s budget. In past years, Congress has earmarked GLNPO’s budget by adding special language to the EPA spending bill protecting it from additional cuts within EPA. The House and Senate bills do not currently provide this protective language. EPA is expected to implement across-the-board budget reductions even after Congress approves its budget. Without protective language, GLNPO will be subject to these reductions. If this occurs, GLNPO would likely be forced to cut back, or even eliminate, its grant program that supports important cleanup work in the AOCs.

WHAT WE WANT: Provide language in the EPA appropriations bill that earmarks, or protects, GLNPO’s budget from additional, internal cutbacks. GLNPO’s budget has already been reduced from previous years and further cuts will diminish its ability to support important Great Lakes restoration work being done by state and local agencies, citizens groups, and other parties.