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Great Lakes Article:

New Great Lakes Funding Welcome, But 'Drop In The Bucket'; President Urged to 'Catch Up' to Bi-Partisan, $6 Billion Restoration
U.S. Newswire
01/28/04

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 restoration initiative.

"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 fiscal year.

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 at http://www.lakemichigan.org.

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.

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