Bush to propose $45 million for
Great Lakes cleanup
By Dee-Ann Durbin
WASHINGTON -- President Bush will ask Congress for $45
million for Great Lakes cleanup in his 2005 budget, more
than quadruple the amount in this year's budget, the head
of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Thursday.
The money would be used to start or accelerate cleanup
of four to six rivers and harbors with severe contamination,
EPA Administrator Mike Leavitt said. Cleanup grants would
be awarded through the Great Lakes Legacy Act, a measure
that passed Congress in 2002 and authorizes up to $50
million per year for cleanup projects through 2008.
Leavitt made the announcement on Belle Isle in the Detroit
River, one of 31 heavily polluted sites the EPA has designated
as an "area of concern." Leavitt said the money
is intended to help stop pollution before it reaches the
lakes, where it's harder to clean up.
Michigan has 13 areas of concern, including the Clinton
River, Muskegon Lake and Saginaw Bay. New York has six,
Ohio and Wisconsin have four each, Indiana, Illinois and
Pennsylvania have one each and Minnesota and Wisconsin
share the St. Louis River. Canada has identified an additional
12 areas of concern.
Great Lakes lawmakers applauded the announcement, but
said it will be up to Congress to ensure that Bush's proposal
becomes a reality. Last year, Bush proposed spending $15
million through the legacy act, but Congress approved
only $10 million. Bush sends his 2005 budget to Congress
"The federal budget ... will be tight, but we must
not shirk our responsibility to clean up and improve the
world we live in," said U.S. Rep. Vernon Ehlers,
R-Grand Rapids, who authored the Great Lakes Legacy Act.
Some environmentalists were critical, saying Bush is
only pledging the cleanup money because it's an election
"Since taking office, the administration has been
cutting funding for toxic waste cleanup and leaving sites
all over the country to threaten public health,"
said Philip Clapp of the National Environmental Trust.
"God help you if you're waiting for EPA to clean
up a toxic waste site outside of a swing state."
Funding from the Great Lakes Legacy Act can be used for
pollution monitoring and research as well as for cleanup
projects. EPA spokeswoman Phillippa Cannon said sites
are applying now for the $10 million included in the 2004
budget. This year will be the first year funding is distributed
under the act, she said.
Bush also will request $3 million for Great Lakes habitat
restoration and $1 million for research into Great Lakes
invaders such as zebra mussels and Asian carp.