call for $4 billion fund to protect Great Lakes
The Associated Press
WASHINGTON -- The Great Lakes, source of drinking water
for 28 million people, need the protection of a $4 billion
federal trust fund to keep the water clean and keep out
invasive species, two congressman said Wednesday.
Reps. Thomas Reynolds, R-N.Y., and Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill.,
are pushing new legislation designed to create a multibillion-dollar
restoration fund, modeled on a similar program launched
in 2000 to protect the Florida Everglades.
Reynolds said past localized efforts to keep the lakes
clean have been moderately successful, but the scope of
the waters -- some 94,000 square miles, including lakes
Superior, Huron, Michigan Erie, and Ontario -- require
"It's certainly an environmental message, but it's
more than that, it's 20 percent of the fresh water in
the world," said Reynolds. "The Great Lakes
need more than help, they need funding."
Reynolds said he and Emanuel would introduce a bill designed
to provide block grants to fund everything from research
programs and data gathering to preventing urban and agricultural
runoff from entering the water supply.
The measure would also fund programs to keep out invasive
foreign species and to protect and restore wetlands.
Emanuel, a former adviser in the Clinton administration,
has been pressing for a federal trust for the lakes since
he entered Congress earlier this year.
David Higby, a project director for the group Environmental
Advocates of New York, said a federal fund is "long
overdue, and should protect the Great Lakes watershed
for generations to come."
Pollutants like mercury and PCB's are still a serious
concern, especially for New York, because much of the
pollution filters down through the St. Lawrence River,
"What the congressmen are talking about would supply
the kind of scientific information that is required to
truly make informed decisions about water management in
the Great Lakes," Higby said.