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GLIN==> White House Budget Leaves Great Lakes Programs on ‘Thin Ice’

White House Budget Leaves Great Lakes Programs on ‘Thin Ice’

WASHINGTON, D.C. (February 6) – President Bush’s proposed budget fails
to turn the tide against the growing threats of sewage pollution,
invasive species and other problems compromising the health of the Great
Lakes, the Healing our Waters–Great Lakes Coalition warned today.

“The White House budget leaves the Great Lakes on thin ice and
underscores the need for the U.S. Congress to act now to address the
serious threats to the lakes. Every day we wait the problems get worse
and the solutions more costly,” said Jeff Skelding, national campaign
director for the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition.

“The Great Lakes are our Grand Canyon, our Yellowstone, yet they remain
vulnerable and face enormous conservation challenges,” said Rep. Rahm
Emanuel (D-Ill.). “Congress will work to ensure that we protect and
preserve this national treasure for generations to come.”

“At a time when our lakes are threatened by increased sewage dumping and
mercury emissions, we should be expanding our protection efforts for the
Great Lakes, not cutting resources for water protection,” said. Rep.
Mark Kirk (R-Ill.). “With all the major presidential candidates pledging
their support for the Great Lakes, I look forward to working with my
colleagues in the Congress to increase funding to keep the drinking
water for 30 million Americans clean.”

The Bush Administration’s proposed fiscal year 2009 budget calls for
$295 million for Great Lakes programs, a reduction of $56 million, or 16
percent, from current enacted levels.

"Sadly, this President's budget that cuts vital programs combating
invasive species and pollution, fails to address the serious problems
facing our Great Lakes," said Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.). "From
fishing to tourism, communities and families across Michigan rely on the
lakes for their livelihood.  Protecting our Great Lakes is not only
critical to our economy, but to the very identity of our state and our
nation. As a member of the Senate Budget Committee, I look forward to
working with my colleagues to restore this funding and develop a
responsible budget that properly invests in one of America's greatest

“The President's budget proposal is woefully inadequate for making real
progress towards the restoration of the Great Lakes, which not only will
benefit the environment, but also the economy,” said Senator Carl Levin
(D-MI).  “It is completely unacceptable that the President, who has
acknowledged that the Great Lakes are a national treasure, would fail to
provide enough funding to ensure that restoration priorities are

The Bush Administration’s budget includes more funding for an electric
barrier to keep the non-native Asian carp out of the lakes and a modest
increase for the Great Lakes Legacy Act, a program to clean up the most
polluted harbors in the region.

Programs targeted for the sharpest cuts include those intended to
prevent sewage contamination and to battle invasive species. 

For the 2009 fiscal year, the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition

•	$490 million for the eight Great Lakes states to stop sewage
contamination. The White House requested $201 million for sewage
treatment in the region, a reduction of $48 million, or 19 percent, from
the current fiscal year.  

•	$21.8 million to control the invasive sea lamprey by funding the
Great Lakes Fishery Commission. The White House requested $13 million, a
$3.49 million reduction, or 21 percent, from the current fiscal year.

•	$10 million to restore fish and wildlife habitat by funding the
Great Lakes Fishery and Ecosystem Restoration Act. The White House
requested no funding for the program, down from $940,000 in the current
fiscal year.

The proposed funding cuts come as recent studies indicate that restoring
the Great Lakes have tremendous economic benefits. The Brookings
Institution found that a $26 billion investment yield at least $80 billion in economic benefit and activity in the

“The White House budget fails to reap the benefits that investing in the
Great Lakes will bring,” said Cameron Davis, president and CEO of the
Alliance for the Great Lakes, and co-chair of the Healing Our
Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. “Congress’ investment in resuscitating the
Great Lakes is an investment in the regional economy, job creation, and
quality of life for millions of workers.”

“We must do everything we can to protect the Great Lakes, including the
treasured national parks that preserve the unique environment and
wildlife of the region,” said Chad Lord, director of the National Parks
Conservation Association Great Lakes Program. “Congress needs to act now
to provide the funding necessary to protect these American treasures.”

In 2005 the Bush Administration launched a task force of federal, state,
local and tribal officials that was entrusted with diagnosing the
problems plaguing the Great Lakes and developing a plan to aid them. The
result of that effort, the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy,
offers solutions to improve sewage treatment capacity, stop invasive
species, clean-up toxic pollutants and restore fish and wildlife

President Bush, however, has refused to use his leadership to advance
that plan.

“The leading presidential candidates have signed a pledge to restore the
Great Lakes, and we expect those candidates to keep their promises,”
said Skelding. “But we cannot wait until 2009. Congress must seize the
day now and stand up for the millions of people who depend on the Great
Lakes for their jobs and way of life.”

For more information, visit: http://www.healthylakes.org

Immediate Release: February 6, 2008

Jordan Lubetkin, National Wildlife Federation, 734-904-1589,
Cameron Davis, Alliance for the Great Lakes, 312-375-2004,
Nora Ferrell, Valerie Denney Communications, 312-408-2580 x 24,
Hugh McMullen, Valerie Denney Communications, 312-408-2580 x 15,
Tracey McIntire, National Parks Conservation Association, 202-454-3311,

*** Please note my new phone number below--(734) 887-7109 . ***

Jordan Lubetkin
Regional Communications Manager
National Wildlife Federation
Great Lakes Natural Resource Center
213 W. Liberty St., Suite 200
Ann Arbor, MI 48104-1398

Phone: (734) 887-7109 
Cell: (734) 904-1589

Inspiring Americans to protect wildlife for our children's future.
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