Coming on the heels of President Obama’s budget—which recommended steep cuts to core Great Lakes programs—citizens from Indiana traveled to Washington, D.C. on Feb. 25-26 to urge members of Congress to restore federal support for efforts to restore and protect Lake Michigan and the other Great Lakes. The visit is part of Great Lakes Days, an annual affair sponsored by the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition and the Great Lakes Commission in which more than 100 citizens visit Hill offices to underscore the importance of the lakes to Indiana and the region.
“Indiana citizens understand that Great Lakes restoration efforts are producing results for the environment and economy,” said Nicole Barker, Executive Director, Save the Dunes “We look forward to working with the U.S. Congress to make sure that the nation maintains its commitment to the Great Lakes.”
President Obama’s budget, released Feb. 2, recommended cutting core Great Lakes restoration programs. The Obama Administration recommended cutting the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative from $300 million to $250 million. The President last year recommended cuts that the U.S. Congress rejected. U.S. Senators and Representatives restored funding in the final budget.
“Now’s not the time to pull the rug out from successful Great Lakes restoration efforts,” said Barker. “We stand arm in arm with the people of Indiana to restore funding to programs that protect our drinking water, health, jobs, and way of life.”
President Obama and the U.S. Congress have invested more than $1.9 billion in the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative over the last six years, which has supported more than 2,200 projects in the eight-state region, according to the EPA. The initiative has funded 85 projects totaling $84 million in Indiana, the largest being the remediation and restoration of the Grand Calumet River.
“Great Lakes restoration projects are producing results in Indiana and across the region, but there’s more work to do,” said Barker. “If we cut funding now, projects will become harder and more expensive the longer we wait.”
Advocates from Indiana joined citizens from across the eight-state region of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York to urge public officials to:
Provide $300 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative
Pass Great Lakes legislation to authorize the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative
Support State Revolving Funds to stop sewer overflows
Target regional Farm Bill conservation funds at farm runoff that fuels harmful algal blooms
Support Asian carp legislation that moves prevention steps forward
Stand up for clean drinking water by supporting rule by U.S. EPA, Army Corps of Engineers
“We have a solid Great Lakes agenda that will make a big difference in the lives of Indiana citizens,” said Barker. “We look forward to speaking with public officials so that we can keep momentum going to restore the Great Lakes and protect our public health, jobs, and quality of life.”