U.S. Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI) joined with Reps. John Dingell (D-MI) and Louise Slaughter (D-NY) in leading a push for sustained funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative as the 2012 Interior-Environment Appropriations Bill is finalized. The House earlier this year began to consider the measure -- and adopted an amendment to increase funding for the GLRI to $300 million -- but failed to complete action. In a letter sent Tuesday, Reps. Levin, Dingell and Slaughter urged to Appropriations Committee leaders to "make Great Lakes restoration funding a priority" as they finalize funding for the 2012 fiscal year.
A bipartisan group of 25 House lawmakers from five Great Lakes states cosigned the letter. Other Michigan members signing included Reps. Conyers, Clarke, Kildee and Peters.
"Michigan has a huge stake in the health of the Great Lakes," said Rep. Levin. "We're sending this letter to the Appropriations Committee to underscore that funding for Great Lakes restoration needs to be a priority as they complete the 2012 spending bills."
"The Great Lakes congressional delegation has been instrumental in making Great Lakes restoration a national priority," said Jeff Skelding, campaign director for the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. "The letter led by Reps. Sandy Levin (Mich.), John Dingell (Mich.) and Louise Slaughter (N.Y.) underscores the bi-partisan and continuing support for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which is essential to protect and restore the Lakes that supply drinking water to more than 30 million people. This restoration effort is producing results, but there is more to do. If we cut funding now, it will only cost more later because projects will be harder and more expensive the longer we wait."
The following letter was sent today:
Nov. 1, 2011
Dear Chairmen Rogers and Simpson and Ranking Members Dicks and Moran:
As Members of Congress who support investment in the economic and environmental health of the Great Lakes region, we respectfully request that you include sustained funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative as you finalize the Fiscal Year 2012 Interior-Environment Appropriations bill.
The Great Lakes are the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth and hold 90 percent of our nation's supply of fresh surface water. The lakes provide invaluable recreational opportunities and support shipping, fishing, boating and tourism industries that generate 1.5 million jobs and $62 billion in wages. Restoring the Great Lakes advances our regional strategy to create jobs, stimulate economic development and invest in freshwater resources and waterfront communities.
The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) is the largest investment in the Great Lakes in two decades and provides critical funding to programs that clean up contaminated sediments, improve water quality, combat invasive species, protect watersheds from polluted run-off, and restore wetlands and other valuable habitats in the Great Lakes. The GLRI is supporting implementation of a comprehensive, bipartisan restoration strategy that is broadly endorsed by the Great Lakes states, cities, tribes, conservation groups, and business and industry.
We realize that budget resources are tight this year; however, we urge you to make Great Lakes restoration a funding priority. During the recent consideration of the Interior-Environment funding bill in the House, a bipartisan majority of House members supported the LaTourette amendment to increase funding for the GLRI to $300 million, which is still $50 million below the President's request for this program.
Sustained funding for the GLRI in Fiscal Year 2012 will encourage continued investments and help ensure the success of this important restoration program. Thank you for your attention to this important matter.
LOUISE SLAUGHTER JOHN DINGELL SANDER LEVIN
Member of Congress Member of Congress Member of Congress
Other signatories: John Conyers, Hansen Clarke, Dale Kildee, Gwen Moore, Brian Higgins, Robert Dold, Janice Schakowsky, Dennis Kucinich, Marcia Fudge, Tim Ryan, Charles Rangel, Gary Peters, Danny Davis, Mike Quigley, Jesse Jackson, Sean Duffy, Bill Owens, Betty Sutton, Kathleen Hochul, Daniel Lipinski, Paul Tonko, Luis Gutierrez.