Programs to restore Lakes, halt sewage overflows receive boost, days after U.S. House budget recommends eviscerating programs
ANN ARBOR, MICH. (August 2, 2013) – The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition is supporting a U.S. Senate funding bill, released yesterday, that restores funding to Great Lakes programs to pre-sequestration levels. The bill comes days after a House funding bill slashed core Great Lakes programs nearly 80 percent.
The draft funding bill from the Senate Interior-EPA subcommittee provides $300 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative—a 5 percent increase over current levels, which is around $285 million. The $300 million is what the Coalition has asked for and what 11 members of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force requested in a letter to appropriators in the spring. The letter was signed by Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) Charles Schumer (D-N.Y), and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.).
The Senate bill also provides $1.45 billion to help communities fix old sewers through the Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund. This is an increase of $69.68 million—or 5 percent—over current levels of $1.37 billion.
The bill from the U.S. Senate contrasts starkly with funding proposed by U.S. House leadership. The House bill slashed funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative from $285 million to $60 million, a reduction of nearly 80 percent. The appropriations committee has since increased funding for the initiative to $210 million.
The House bill also cut more than 80 percent from the Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund, from current levels of $1.37 billion to $250 million.
Reacting to the funding bill, Todd Ambs, campaign director for the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition, said:
“We applaud the U.S. Senate for putting forward a bill that recognizes the importance of the Great Lakes and supports programs that will help keep restoration efforts on track. We urge the full Senate to support funding the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative at $300 million. Our restoration efforts are producing results, but there is more work to do. The re-emergence of toxic algal blooms, ongoing beach closings, state-wide fish consumption advisories, and legacy of toxic contamination are all reminders that the Great Lakes still desperately need our help. Cutting funding will only make problems worse and more expensive to solve.
“Over the last four years, Republicans and Democrats have united to restore the Great Lakes, and we remain committed to working with them to restore a resource that more than 30 million people depend on for their drinking water, jobs, health, and way of life.”
The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition consists of 120 environmental, conservation, outdoor recreation organizations, zoos, aquariums and museums representing millions of people, whose common goal is to restore and protect the Great Lakes. Learn more at www.healthylakes.org or follow us on Twitter @healthylakes.
CONTACT: Jordan Lubetkin, 734-904-1589