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E-M:/ Great Lakes Funding a Baby Step



Immediate Release                                        Contacts: Kate Madigan, Environmental Advocate

January 29, 2004                                                              PIRGIM, 517-485-5029

                                                                                        

                                                                                         Wil Cwikiel, Policy Director

                                                                                         Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council

                                                                                         231-347-1181 x115

                                                                                   

Great Lakes Legacy Act Funding a Baby Step

Groups Urge Bush Administration to Fund Restoration with $6 billion

 

Today environmental groups in Michigan called the EPA’s announcement to fund the Great Lakes Legacy Act a first step towards clean up of contaminated sediment in the Great Lakes and just a baby step towards the needed funding for restoration. The Public Interest Research Group in Michigan (PIRGIM) and Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council called for the Bush Administration to give the Great Lakes the national attention they deserve and the federal funding they need.

 

This morning the EPA Administrator announced in Detroit the Bush Administration’s plans to fund the Great Lakes Legacy Act of 2002, which will go towards clean up of contaminated sediment in the Great Lakes. Last year the Act was funded with $10 million. The International Joint Commission has estimated that clean up of contaminated sediment in the Great Lakes will cost $8 billion.

 

This funding makes up a small amount of the funding necessary for clean up of contaminated sediments, and will not address other serious problems facing the Great Lakes, including invasive species, habitat destruction, and increasing toxic pollution.

 

“We applaud this proposal to fund clean up of contaminated sediments, it is a baby step towards restoring the Great Lakes,” stated Kate Madigan of PIRGIM. “To truly support Great Lakes restoration, the Bush Administration should commit funding to the bi-partisan effort in Congress led by Senator Levin that would bring $600 million of federal dollars for restoration each year, starting with the FY 2005 budget that the President will send to Congress next week.” 

 

The call for restoration dollars is based on dozens of research-based plans developed across the Great Lakes basin by scientists, agency experts, environmental and conservation groups, and citizens.

 

"Taken together, the existing plans provide an excellent blueprint for accomplishing our restoration goals. Currently, little is being done to implement those plans. Now is the time to take advantage of the decades of research and planning by funding on-the-ground projects across the Great Lakes Basin," said Wil Cwikiel, Policy Director for Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council and author of the Great Lakes chapter of the National Strategy to Restore Coastal and Estuarine Habitat.

 

The bills before Congress (S. 1398 and H.R. 2720) would establish federal funding for Great Lakes environmental restoration over the next five to eight years, and direct the U.S. EPA to distribute the funds to restore the lakes. The funds would be allocated among Great Lakes states and used to address priority issues, including wetland restoration, pollution reduction, toxic sediment cleanup, and invasive species control and prevention.

 

The Senate bill was introduced by Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) and Senator Mike DeWine (R-OH) and would authorize a total of $6 billion over 10 years towards restoration. The House bill was introduced by Representative Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) and Thomas Reynolds (R-NY) and would authorize $4 billion over five years. Both of Michigan’s Senators and twelve of our state’s Representatives are co-sponsors of this legislation. These bills have the bi-partisan support of more than 100 co-sponsors from Great Lakes states. 

 

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Kate Madigan

PIRGIM Environmental Advocate

1310 Turner Street, Suite B

Lansing, MI 48906

Tel: 517-485-5029

www.pirgim.org