FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 2, 2009
| Great Lakes United | Environmental Defence |
| Canadian Environmental Law Association |
Fall Short on Great Lakes While U.S. Leaps Ahead
Obama commits $475 million to the Great Lakes,
Harper’s budget makes no mention of the vital waters.
(TORONTO & OTTAWA – March 2, 2009) The White House
announced its proposed budget for 2010 last week, including a 34 percent
increase in funding for the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency and an extra $475 million in Great Lakes
restoration. Canadian environmental organizations are applauding this
leadership on the U.S.
side of the border, while harshly criticizing the Canadian federal government,
whose last federal budget did not even mention the Great
“What we need to see from Stephen Harper is a national investment
in the Great Lakes, not the Manhattan theatrics
that he is passing off as Canada-U.S.
relations,” said Derek Stack, Executive Director of Great Lakes United,
responding to Prime Minister Harper’s recent publicity blitz of New York City. “This
is the same cycle we’ve seen for years – the U.S.
commits hundreds of millions of dollars to the Great Lakes and Ottawa does
During the presidential campaign, Obama pledged to create a $5 billion
fund to jumpstart the recovery of the Great Lakes.
The budget package signals a commitment to following through on this pledge. It
also comes in the wake of Great Lakes Day, an annual event that brings
environmental and conservation groups to Washington
D.C. to press the need for
renewal of the region.
“This is a serious budget commitment, and one that is in stark
contrast to that of our own federal government, which has earmarked virtually
nothing for Great Lakes clean up,” said Aaron Freeman, Policy Director of
Environmental Defence. “It is clear that the Obama administration
understands that environment and economy are two sides of the same coin.
our federal politicians seem mired in a totally outdated ‘environment
versus economy’ mentality.”
A recent report by the Brookings Institute found that a $26 billion
investment in the Great Lakes would reap $50
billion worth of benefits. With the combined economies of Ontario
and the eight Great Lakes states exceeding that of the economic powerhouses of China, India,
Germany and the United Kingdom, an investment in the Great Lakes would create jobs, address urgent health and
environmental problems, and improve the quality of life in the region.
“While the president has made it clear that he
remains committed to jumpstarting the recovery of the Great
Lakes, the Harper government has simply demonstrated that it
remains the lax laggard of the region,” said Dr. Elaine MacDonald, Senior
Scientist with Ecojustice (formerly Sierra Legal Defence Fund). “The
longer we wait the worse the problems get and the more costly the solutions
Successive governments in Canada
have given little regard to the health of the Great Lakes,
cutting funding and scaling back resources.
“For years Environment Canada has been plagued by budget cuts and
broken funding promises,” said Sarah Miller,
Water Policy Researcher with the Canadian Environmental Law Association.
“As a result we have lost the scientific capacity to understand the
impacts of new stresses on this delicate ecosystem.”
Derek Stack, Great Lakes United,
Aaron Freeman, Environmental Defence, 613-564-0007
Elaine MacDonald, Ecojustice, (416) 368-7533, ext. 27
Sarah Miller, Canadian Environmental Law Association, 416-960-2284,
Great Lakes United
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