|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
|Date:||February 7, 2007|
|Contact:||Chad Lord, NPCA, 202-223-6722|
White House Budget Leaves Great Lakes Programs 'Treading Water'
Washington, D.C. —The White House budget released Monday does not go far enough to restore the Great Lakes, said members of the leading coalition advocating on behalf of the lakes.
“The White House budget leaves Great Lakes programs treading water, when what’s called for is a full-scale rescue,” said Jeff Skelding of the National Wildlife Federation, who serves as campaign director of the Healing Our Waters®–Great Lakes Coalition. “The President’s commitment to restore the Great Lakes fails to match the magnitude and urgency of the problems facing the lakes. We can do better by investing in solutions now to avoid paying more later."
The President’s proposed budget cuts funding for Great Lakes programs by about 10 percent from 2006 allocations.
“The numbers tell the story,” said Chad Lord of the National Parks Conservation Association, who serves as legislative director of the Healing Our Waters®–Great Lakes Coalition. “We appreciate the increase for programs such as the Great Lakes Legacy Act and the Asian carp barrier. However, this budget does not keep pace with the comprehensive restoration plan developed by the region’s citizens, mayors, governors, and the President’s own task force. We are now looking to Congress to act to restore a resource that millions of people depend on for their jobs, drinking water, and quality of life.”
The President’s budget funds construction of an electric barrier to prevent the Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes, a project that is a top priority of the Healing Our Waters coalition. It also recommends a slight increase for the Great Lakes Legacy Act, which funds the clean-up of toxic sediments in the region’s bays and harbors.
The budget slashes funding to programs that help upgrade municipal wastewater treatment systems to prevent sewage contamination, control invasive species such as the sea lamprey, and restore fish habitat.
The Healing Our Waters coalition put forward budget requests including:
· $1.35 billion to stop sewage contamination by helping cities upgrade wastewater treatment facilities. The White House requested $685 million.
· $20.20 million to control the invasive sea lamprey by funding the Great Lakes Fishery Commission. The White House requested $12 million.
· $4.5 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.
“We have solutions to the problems which plague the lakes,” said Emily Green, director of the Sierra Club’s Great Lake program and co-chair of the Healing Our Waters®–Great Lakes Coalition. “Now is the time to implement these solutions. Every day we wait, the problems get worse and the solutions get more costly. It is time for Congress to enact comprehensive legislation to restore the Great Lakes.”