New Great Lakes Funding Welcome,
But 'Drop In The Bucket'; President
Urged to 'Catch Up' to Bi-Partisan, $6 Billion Restoration
Contact: Cameron Davis of the Lake Michigan Federation,
312-375-2004 (cell); Noah Hall of the National Wildlife
Federation, 734-646-1400 (cell)
CHICAGO -- Though conservation organizations welcome
an expected announcement tomorrow by U.S. EPA Administrator
Mike Leavitt of increased funding for toxic sediment cleanup
under the 2002 Great Lakes Legacy Act, they call it a
"drop in the bucket" compared to what's actually
needed. The conservation community urges the President
to also support bi- partisan legislation, now before Congress,
that would create a much larger, comprehensive Great Lakes
"We commend the EPA for increasing its funding for
toxic cleanup under the Great Lakes Legacy Act,"
said Andy Buchsbaum, director of the National Wildlife
Federation's (NWF) Great Lakes Natural Resource Center.
"Hopefully, this is just a warm up for the main event:
Genuine, comprehensive Great Lakes restoration."
"The Great Lakes are a national treasure and require
national leadership," said Cameron Davis, director
of the Lake Michigan Federation. "Congressional leaders
from both parties across the country have offered a realistic
plan and resources so we don't push Great Lakes health
off to future generations. The Midwest Governors support
this legislation and so do the mayors. The missing link
right now is the White House."
The Legacy Act, signed into law by President Bush in
2002, authorized $50 million annually for five years in
toxic cleanup funds. First-year funding was limited to
$12 million. EPA Administrator Leavitt is expected to
announce tomorrow an increase in funding for the coming
Lawmakers and scientists agree, however, that far more
funding to protect the Great Lakes is needed, and for
many other purposes. "We need money to control CSO
overflows that are closing beaches; we need money to protect
fragile coasts and wetlands from development," said
Noah Hall, water resources manager for NWF. "And
we need a lot more money-billions, not millions-just for
toxic sediment cleanup."
Congressional leaders from both parties have sponsored
bills in the House and Senate to provide billions of dollars
over several years to create a comprehensive restoration
program for the Great Lakes. The House bill, H.R. 2720,
the "Great Lakes Restoration Financing Act of 2003,"
provides $4 billion over five years; the Senate bill,
S. 1398, the "Great Lakes Environmental Restoration
Act," provides $6 billion over 10 years. Both bills
set the U.S. EPA as the lead agency to restore the lakes
and provide extensive leadership and participation by
states, cities, and stakeholders.
The House bill has 105 co-sponsors; the Senate bill,
12, evenly split between the two parties.
Formed in 1970, the Lake Michigan Federation is the oldest
citizens' Great Lakes organization in North America. Its
mission is to restore fish and wildlife habitat, conserve
land and water, and eliminate pollution in the watershed
of the largest lake within U.S. borders. More information
on the Federation and Great Lakes issues is available
The nation's largest member-supported conservation, education,
and advocacy group, the National Wildlife Federation unites
people from all walks of life to protect nature, wildlife,
and the world we all share. The Federation has educated
and inspired families to uphold America's conservation
tradition since 1936.