|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
|Date:||November 8, 2007|
|Contact:||Jeff Skelding, Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition, (410) 245-8021, JSkelding@nwf.org
Jordan Lubetkin, Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition, (734) 904-1589, Lubetkin@nwf.org
Governors to Presidential Candidates: Support Great Lakes Restoration
ANN ARBOR, MI (November 8) -- The governors of all eight Great Lakes states, home to many of the battleground states in next year’s presidential election, are expected today to urge candidates seeking the White House to support the restoration of the Great Lakes.
Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle, who serves as chairman of the Council of Great Lakes Governors, will put forward the challenge weeks after Democratic presidential hopeful and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson ignited a firestorm after implying in a speech that Great Lakes water was open for taking by thirsty Western states.
The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition applauded the action by Gov. Doyle and Govs. Rod Blagojevich (Ill.), Mitch Daniels (Ind.), Jennifer Granholm (Mich.), Tim Pawlenty (Minn.), Ed Rendell (Pa.), Eliot Spitzer (N.Y.) and Ted Strickland (Ohio).
“Millions of people who depend on the lakes for their jobs and way of life are looking for a president who will not stand by as the health of the Great Lakes deteriorates from ongoing sewage contamination, invasive species and habitat loss,” said Jeff Skelding, national campaign director for the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. “Presidential candidates who turn their backs on the Great Lakes are failing to protect our drinking water, public health, economy and way of life.”
The coalition is asking presidential candidates to pledge to fully fund within five years the implementation of the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy, a comprehensive plan to restore the lakes by preventing sewage contamination, stopping invasive species introductions and restoring wetlands and other habitat.
“Presidential commitment to the Great Lakes means one thing: fully funding restoration now, because the longer we wait, the problems get worse and more costly,” said Skelding.
Crafted by over 1,500 citizens representing cities, industry, conservation organizations, Tribes, and state and federal agencies, the strategy has been introduced in the U.S. Congress as the Great Lakes Collaboration Implementation Act (H.R. 1350, S. 791).
The Great Lakes are essential to the economic and cultural identity of the Great Lakes region; 42 million people depend on the lakes for their drinking water. A recent independent cost-benefit analysis concluded that implementing the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy would produce twice the economic gains compared to its cost. Overall the strategy would create $50 billion in long-term economic benefits for the region, as well as another $30 billion in short-term economic activity.
“Presidential candidates need to realize that Great Lakes restoration is a jobs engine that will help create thousands of good-paying jobs immediately by positioning the region as attractive to businesses, investors and talented workers,” said Skelding. “Great Lakes restoration will create jobs, boost the region’s economy and benefit the nation.”
The Healthy Lakes, Healthy Lives Campaign is directed by the Healing Our Waters®-Great Lakes Coalition. The coalition is co-chaired by the National Parks Conservation Association, and 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.