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GLIN==> GAO Report - National Wildlife Federation's Responce



Posted on behalf of Sara Jackson <sjackson@nwf.org>

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GAO Report - National Wildlife Federation's Responce

The U.S. Government Accounting Office (GAO) recently released a report on
the effectiveness of government programs to protect and restore the Great
Lakes. "The GAO report confirms the lack of coordination, funding,
prioritization - indeed, vision - of the federal agencies responsible for
protecting and restoring the Great Lakes," said Andy Buchsbaum, director of
the Great Lakes Office of the National Wildlife Federation, based in Ann
Arbor, Michigan. "It's like running a company where all the departments get
to do what they want: you waste a lot of time and money and the product
suffers. We can't let that happen to the Great Lakes."

Although the GAO found hundreds of government programs spent substantial
state and federal funds on Great Lakes cleanup programs, the report
concludes that "an overarching strategy and a comprehensive plan are needed
that clearly articulate goals, objectives, and criteria for measuring
success and that establish a decision-making body to weigh the merits of,
and prioritize funding for, proposed cleanup and restoration efforts."

The GAO report also identified a lack of comprehensive, quantitative
monitoring as a significant barrier to setting restoration priorities and
measuring restoration progress.

The report faulted the EPA's current Great Lakes guidance document, Great
Lakes Strategy, 2002, as "largely a description of existing program activity
relating to basin restoration" and not a strategic plan that sets
priorities, criteria for evaluating success, and funding needs and
mechanisms.

The GAO report identifies 148 federal and 51 state programs that currently
operate to protect or restore the environment in the Great Lakes basin in
some fashion. Of these, 33 federal programs are explicitly targeted to the
Great Lakes, with spending totaling $387 million from 1992-2001. In
addition, the Army Corps of Engineers spent $358 million during this time
period for Congressionally-directed projects, although many of those many
not have been restoration-based. During this period, the states spent an
added $956 million on Great Lakes cleanup and restoration programs and
projects.

"EPA and the Corps have not delivered for the Great Lakes," Buchsbaum said.
"The Great Lakes need a strategic plan, strategic priorities, and
significantly more Congressional funding to recover from decades of
dredging, filling, and pollution. This effort needs to be led state and
local stakeholders, not just federal agencies. It's time for Congress and
state governments to step in and make sure that Great Lakes recovery
planning is done right, and done soon."


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