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Midwesterners in D.C. to Support Great Lakes Restoration

A Midwest coalition is meeting with members of Congress this week to drum up support for Great Lakes restoration projects. (epa.gov)
A Midwest coalition is meeting with members of Congress this week to drum up support for Great Lakes restoration projects. (epa.gov)
March 7, 2018

INDIANAPOLIS — With shorelines on Lake Michigan, Indiana has a vested interest in keeping the Great Lakes clean. And this Wednesday and Thursday, a coalition representing business, industry, and environmental organizations will meet with members of Congress to rally support for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

The Trump administration wants to cut funding for the initiative by 90 percent. Chris Danou, government relations director with the group Gathering Waters, said there's a lot at risk if that happens, and described some of the initiative's work.

"What it does is, it's provided a substantial amount of funding for a fair number of restoration projects - for water infrastructure projects, for trying to fix some of the pollution issues we have with sedimentation and nutrient flows into, say, Green Bay,” Danou said. “Those are the kind of things that the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative does."

In total, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has funded more than 3,500 projects across the Great Lakes region.

The Great Lakes congressional delegation has a strong history of supporting the initiative. Todd Ambs, campaign director at the Healing Our Waters - Great Lakes Coalition, said there was a strong negative reaction to the Trump administration's first proposal to zero it out, and to this year's proposal to cut the initiative by 90 percent.

"In both cases, Congress - pretty much immediately, in a bipartisan fashion - came forward and said that they were going to ignore that request, and that they would be moving ahead with continuing to be supportive of $300 million a year for this important restoration work,” Ambs said.

He said the groups will also urge Congress to continue to support healthy budgets for the federal agencies that oversee the restoration work.

Danou added that the Great Lakes are key to the long-term future of the upper Midwest. They are the source of drinking water for more than 48 million people and, according to the coalition, directly generate more than 1.5 million jobs.

More information on restoration efforts is available here.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - IN