Great Lakes Protectors Appeal To Congress

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The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative - or GLRI - has had support of President Obama in budgets past.

But with the nation's deficit climbing, federal support for many regional programs is in budget cutters' cross-hairs.

Speculation from Washington insiders suggests funding for the Initiative in 2012 could come in well under the 475 million dollars requested. The President reveals his proposed budget in less than a week.

Jeff Skelding is with the Great Lakes Coalition. He says protecting the lakes is environmentally AND economically vital.

JEFF SKELDING:
"To cut this program is the exact opposite in terms of the goals that some budget cutters would profess, so we don't think cutting the GLRI is a defensible federal policy option now. In fact it's just the opposite."

Skelding is one of several who spoke at a Monday news conference.... Another, Joel Brammeier, President of the Alliance for the Great Lakes, fears that multi-year projects, some already begun - will stall if money to complete them doesn't materialize.

Specific among his concerns are sewer and infrastructure projects, including some in Northeast and North Central Ohio.

JOEL BRAMMEIER:
"If resources aren't there to follow up with remediation and solutions on the ground, we're not going to be any better off than where we started - that's why keeping that GLRI funding coming through to communities is so important."

With Congress not having yet ratified the FY11 budget, there is also a possibility some of the $300 million previously committed this year to Lakes Restoration could be lost.

The environmental panel says support thus far `has been' bipartisan for Great Lakes projects that create jobs, clean up toxic hot spots, and support the fishing and tourism industries.

Rick Jackson, 90.3.

http://www.greatlakes.org/Page.aspx?pid=243
http://www.healthylakes.org/

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