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Great Lakes Article:

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 it’s time to act.

“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 said.

The Milwaukee Metro-politan Sewerage District and six nearby communities reported dumping 4.6 billion gallons of untreated wastewater last month.


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