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Great Lakes Article:

A glance at Bush's record on parks, Great Lakes
Scripps Howard News Service
From: http://www.knoxstudio.com/
Published September 7th, 2004

- Bush administration officials are highlighting the president's record on national parks and restoration of the Great Lakes during visits to battleground states. Here is a quick look at those issues and Bush's record:


National Parks


The issue: Bush pledged in the 2000 presidential race to "eliminate" the estimated $4.9 billion backlog of maintenance and construction projects at America's 388 national parks. The promise was reported in the media at the time as a pledge to spend $5 billion in additional monies beyond the parks' operating budget.

What's happened: Based on the most complete inventory of the parks, the administration now estimates the maintenance backlog at $5.7 billion. An additional $662 million has been spent during Bush's administration on maintenance and construction beyond normal maintenance.

What the administration says: Bush pledged to eliminate the $4.9 billion backlog, but not by spending an additional $5 billion. The park service has identified 4,000 priority maintenance projects and hopes to complete those projects by fiscal 2006. Bush has requested more than $5 billion for park maintenance and construction over five years, but a significant portion of that funding is for road construction and has not yet been approved by Congress.


Great Lakes


The issue: The Great Lakes face mounting environmental problems, including pollution from urban runoff and mercury emissions from power plants, harmful invasive species like the zebra mussel, pressure from growing communities to divert more water, dramatically reduced water levels as the result of climate change, and more frequent beach closures due to contamination.

Administration response: Bush signed an executive order to create an interagency task force headed by Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Mike Leavitt to make recommendations on how to address the region's problems. The task force is trying to figure out exactly how much money is being spent each year by 140 different government agencies on projects and policies involving the lakes. Bush also requested an additional $45 million for water-quality projects in the region.

What critics say: Bush's proposed cuts in EPA funding would mean about $178 million less in grants to local communities in the Great Lakes region to control water pollution. Other administration actions that could harm the lakes include a proposal to allow water utilities to discharge partially treated sewage, a decision not to require power plants to use maximum control technology to reduce mercury emissions and denial of a petition by environmentalists to require ships to discharge their ballast water - a frequent source of alien species - before entering the lakes.

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