Obama budget maintains Great Lakes fundsPublished 6:13pm Sunday, March 4, 2012
ANN ARBOR — Environmental advocates are pleased by what they see in President Obama’s fiscal year 2013 budget when it comes to the restoration of the Great Lakes, although they say there is still much work to be done.
The lakes have great challenges — from pollution and contamination to invasive species — but those dedicated to keeping them “great” say they are encouraged because Obama’s budget proposal recommends maintaining funding for Great Lakes restoration at its current level of $300 million.
Jeff Skelding, campaign director for the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition, says he’s pleased the president recognizes the value of investing in these waterways.
“Three-hundred million dollars will allow a significant amount of important work — project work, on the ground work, in the water work — to clean up the Great Lakes.”
He notes Obama’s budget proposal is just the first step; it will be up to Congress to appropriate the funds. In past years, Skelding says, the Great Lakes states’ congressional delegations have shown tremendous bipartisan support for these programs, which he says are showing a tremendous return on investment. “Fish and wildlife are returning to places after decades-long absences. Businesses are emerging and thriving on restored waterfronts. People are fishing, swimming and kayaking in places they never did before.” It’s estimated that every $1 that goes into Great Lakes restoration produces at least $2 in economic benefits, and that more than 1.5 million people across the region depend on the Great Lakes for their jobs.