|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
|Date:||June 28, 2007|
|Contact:||Jeff Skelding, National Wildlife Federation, (202) 797-6893, firstname.lastname@example.org
Andrea Keller, National Parks Conservation Association, (202) 454-3332, email@example.com
Jordan Lubetkin, National Wildlife Federation, (734) 769-3351 x 23, firstname.lastname@example.org
U.S. House-Passed Appropriations Bill
'A Critical Step Forward for Great Lakes'
ANN ARBOR, MICH —The U.S. House of Representatives last night passed the Interior Appropriations Bill, providing new funding for Great Lakes restoration programs, including those to stop sewage contamination and prevent the onslaught of new invasive species into the lakes.
“This budget is a critical step forward for the Great Lakes, our economy, and our way of life,” said Jeff Skelding, national campaign director for the Healing Our Waters®-Great Lakes Coalition. “We commend the House leadership—especially Congressman Mark Kirk—for their efforts to boost funding for Great Lakes restoration.”
Thanks to the leadership of Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL) and others, funding was provided to support an electric barrier to prevent the non-native Asian carp from entering the lakes. Rep. Kirk also worked to secure a $2-million increase for the Great Lakes Legacy Act, which is a $7-million increase over fiscal year 2007 funding for the program.
The U.S. Senate is expected to pass its Interior Appropriations bill in July.
“We're looking to the Senate to provide the same leadership as the House,” said Skelding, “because the longer we wait, the problems afflicting the Great Lakes get worse and the solutions more costly.”
President Bush has threatened to veto the bill.
“We’re counting on the President to follow through on the commitment he made to restore the Great Lakes and, when the time comes, to sign this bill into law,” said Skelding. “Now is the time to stand up for the millions of people who depend on the lakes for their drinking water, jobs, and way of life.”
The Interior Appropriations Bill funds the following Great Lakes programs:
- Clean Water State Revolving Fund, which helps end sewage dumping in the Great Lakes by updating aging water infrastructure. This bill provides $1.1 billion to clean water loans funded under this program, a nearly 4 percent increase over last year.
- Great Lakes Legacy Act: This bill increases funding for the Legacy Act by almost 19 percent over fiscal year 2007 levels. The $37 million provided by this bill will help clean up toxic sediments in Great Lakes harbors and rivers.
- Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration Act, which provides grants to states and tribes to protect and restore Great Lakes fish and wildlife habitat. The bill provides $560,000 to the act’s restoration grants program, more than last year.
- Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health (BEACH) Act, which helps Great Lakes states to standardize, test and implement beach and coastal assessments. These assessments help keep our beaches open and safe for families. The bill funds the program at $9.9 million.
- Great Lakes National Program Office: This bill fully funds the Great Lakes National Program Office at $25 million. The extra funds will help the office administer the Great Lakes Legacy Act and clean up toxic sites.
- U.S. Geological Survey’s Great Lakes Science Center: The bill provides support for Great Lakes research and monitoring, including additional deepwater fishery science and ecosystem research.
“The boost to Great Lakes programs comes at the right time for the millions of Great Lakes citizens who have seen their beaches fouled, fishery decimated, and utility bills increase due to sewage contamination, invasive species, and the other threats plaguing the lakes,” said Skelding. “We have solutions to these problems. It is now time to use them.”
Healing Our Waters®-Great Lakes Coalition consists of more than 90 zoos, aquariums, museums, and hunting, fishing, and environmental organizations representing millions of people, whose common goal is to restore and protect the Great Lakes. Formed in 2005 with support from the Wege Foundation, Joyce Foundation, and others, the Healing Our Waters®-Great Lakes Coalition reflects a growing public awareness about the urgent need to restore the Great Lakes.