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Great Lakes Article:

New plan to clean Great Lakes
The Associated Press

WASHINGTON - The United States and Canada now have a comprehensive plan for cleaning up the Great Lakes, according to the environmentalists who devised it.

A coalition of about 30 U.S. and Canadian environmental groups released their agenda for the project Monday, calling for specific cleanup plans, funding increases and regulatory changes.

The environmentalists’ plan comes less than a month after a congressional report said the federal government has failed to coordinate cleanup programs on the lakes with states and regional groups.

It also follows a status report released May 1 by the International Joint Commission that showed slow progress on the clean up of 43 contaminated sites on the lakes. The IJC was created by the U.S. government and Canada in 1909 to deal with Great Lakes issues.

We’re sick and tired of these reports coming out and nothing happening. It just seems to go on and on, said Margaret Wooster, executive director of Great Lakes United, an environmental watchdog group based in Buffalo, that released the cleanup agenda.

The Great Lakes Green Book calls on the U.S. and Canadian governments to adopt an agreement for regulating the withdrawal of water from the lakes by 2004, clean up all contaminated sites on the basin by 2015, use 20 percent more renewable energy by 2020, and increase the amount of protected wetlands in the area by 2025.

We set the standards as high and as broad as possible, Wooster said. We need a substantial increase in funding, but we also need to look at the regulations and we need to look at the monitoring.

The agenda lists state and federal strategies for cleaning up toxic sediments, encouraging clean energy, monitoring water quantity, improving air and water quality standards, guarding against invasive species, and protecting natural habitats around the lakes.

It commends Congress for passing the Great Lakes Legacy Act last year but calls on it to be funded at $54 million a year for five years. The act was funded last year at $50 million.

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