Forum eyes ways to help Great Lakes
Mercury levels, invasive species among problems
The Associated Press
Published June 8, 2004
CHICAGO Several members of Illinois congressional
delegation said Monday that the time for studying the
problems of the Great Lakes is over and its time
We are long on studies and short on money, and
I would like to reverse that order now, Rep. Rahm
Emanuel, a Chicago Democrat, told a congressional forum
at the Shedd Aquarium overlooking Lake Michigan.
Emanuel and Rep. Mark Kirk, R-Highland Park, have introduced
a bill that would authorize $4 billion a year for Great
Lakes restoration projects.
Kirk said Lake Michigan faces a growing threat from mercury
pollution, invasive species and polluted harbors.
He called for stricter enforcement of the Clean Air Act
to lessen pollution from coal-fired power plants, and
dismissed the notion that sound environmental policy was
bad for the economy.
President Bush last month named a 10-member Cabinet-level
task force, chaired by Environmental Protection Agency
chief Mike Leavitt, to coordinate Great Lakes cleanup
efforts among states, federal agencies and Canada.
The General Accounting Office last year found that 33
federal and 17 state programs spent more than $1.7 billion
on environmental restoration of the Great Lakes, but the
efforts were uncoordinated and the results difficult to
measure. A report by the new task force on cleanup coordination
is due next spring.
Chicago Mayor Richard Daley said Monday that the recent
dumping into Lake Michigan and its tributaries of billions
of gallons of raw sewage by Milwaukee and nearby towns
was an example of why an overall lakes plan is needed.
The Great Lakes are absolutely vital to our local
economy and of course our quality of life, Daley
The Milwaukee Metro-politan Sewerage District and six
nearby communities reported dumping 4.6 billion gallons
of untreated wastewater last month.