Lakes lawmakers applaud Bush budget proposal, say more is
Great Lakes lawmakers applauded President Bush Wednesday
for proposing an increase in spending for Great Lakes
cleanup in his 2005 budget, but said the lakes still lack
the money and attention that have gone to other environmentally
Rep. Tom Reynolds, R-N.Y., said Congress voted to participate
in an $8 billion cleanup of the Everglades, a $7 billion
cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay and a $2 billion cleanup
of San Francisco Bay but has yet to commit to a Great
"The Great Lakes need more than help. They need
money," Reynolds told about 150 U.S. and Canadian
officials gathered in Washington for an annual round of
Great Lakes lobbying.
Reynolds and Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., are sponsoring
a House bill to create a $4 billion trust fund for Great
Lakes restoration. In the Senate, Sen. Mike DeWine, R-Ohio,
and Carl Levin, D-Mich., are sponsoring a bill to create
a $6 billion trust fund. Neither bill has passed a committee
since being introduced in July.
Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said the bills are a priority
for Great Lakes lawmakers this year. She also said she
will try to include a permanent ban on Great Lakes oil
and gas drilling in the 2005 budget. A two-year ban is
set to expire in 2005.
DeWine said the lakes have suffered because the states
surrounding them lacked a unified vision. But he said
in the last two years, states have reached a new level
of cooperation on cleanup, controlling invasive species
and wetlands restoration.
DeWine said Bush recognized that cooperation in his 2005
budget proposal, which includes $45 million for cleaning
rivers and harbors that flow into the Great Lakes. If
lawmakers approve the proposal, it would quadruple the
amount spent in this year's budget.
But lawmakers and other officials said there is far more
to be done.
Samuel Speck, head of the Great Lakes Commission, said
the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers needs far more money
to combat the Asian carp, an invasive species with a voracious
appetite that is damaging the lakes' ecosystem. The Army
Corps had $1.45 million in its budget to combat the fish
this year, including $500,000 for an electric barrier
to stop them from swimming into Lake Michigan.
"There won't be a second chance," Speck said.
Cleveland Mayor Jane Campbell said restoration of the
Great Lakes also is a critical part of the redevelopment
of the region's cities.
"We believe we could be identified as the water
belt rather than the Rust Belt," she said.