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Great Lakes initiative is critically important

The congressional members of the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Subcommittee can learn a lesson from communities across the Great Lakes on what effective implementation of bipartisan legislation truly means. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is a catalyst for simultaneously restoring ecological health and economic revitalization here in the Buffalo River and other Great Lakes cities. It is unique in that it is widely supported by diverse political parties, industry and environmental groups.

Somehow that message has not reached the western states, where six of the congressional leaders on this subcommittee serve, and have determined that the Great Lakes are no longer a national priority, and they contain no threats to human health. These leaders also seem to feel that healthy drinking water for 30 million Americans is merely “nice to have.” The invasive Asian carp, sewage overflows and toxic contamination are threats our communities face daily.

If this is not offensive enough, reading through the subcommittee’s press release on the budget proposal, the initiative is not the only target. Anyone who cares about fresh water resources should be concerned about the proposed provisions that weaken the Clean Water Act.

Budget reductions should be anticipated, but virtual elimination of one of the most successful Great Lakes programs in American history is unconscionable. Not only would this derail much of the forward momentum for our local waterways’ ecological recovery, it would negatively impact the local and regional economies that have started to surge throughout the Great Lakes Basin. Even the respected Brookings Institution identified that every dollar invested in Great Lakes restoration generates $2 in economic benefit and up to $4 in economic activity.

Let your voice be heard so we may complete the restoration of our beloved rivers, lakes and harbors.

Jill Jedlicka

Executive Director

Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper