Coalition: 2012 Budget ‘Significant Victory for Millions Who Depend on Great Lakes’

$300 Million for Great Lakes Restoration Initiative

12-20-2011 // Jordan Lubetkin
Photo of ice formations on Otter Creek Beach, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Empire, Michigan

The Healing Our Waters - Great Lakes Coalition is praising the 2012 federal budget bill, which has passed both chambers of Congress and is waiting to be signed into law by President Obama. The budget provides $300 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to clean up toxic pollution, restore wildlife habitat, stop invasive species and reduce polluted run-off from farms and cities.

The budget also includes $1.468 billion to help communities across the nation address the chronic problem of sewage overflows. Based on a fixed formula, the eight Great Lakes states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin will receive about $533 million through the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, which provides low- and no-interest loans to communities to fix old sewers.

Funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative remains relatively unchanged, receiving $300 million in fiscal year 2012 compared with $299 million in fiscal year 2011. Funding for the Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund decreased by 3.5 percent. Congress approved $1.53 billion in fiscal year 2011 and $1.46 billion in fiscal year 2012. Great Lakes states will receive an estimated $533 million in fiscal year 2012, compared with $552 in fiscal year 2011.

“The 2012 budget represents a significant victory for the millions of people who depend on the Great Lakes for their drinking water, jobs and way of life,” said Jeff Skelding, campaign director for the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. “This investment will help support programs that are delivering results in communities across the region.”

Read about successful Great Lakes restoration efforts at http://healthylakes.org/successes

The House of Representatives passed the bill 296-121 on Friday. The Senate passed the bill 67-32 on Saturday. President Obama is expected to sign the budget into law this week.

Members of Congress from the Great Lakes states were instrumental in holding the line against cuts to Great Lakes programs, including appropriations committee members Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Dan Coats (R-Ind.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), and Reps. Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.), Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.), Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), Steve LaTourette (R-Ohio), Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), Jose Serrano (D-N.Y.), and Pete Visclosky (D-Ind.).

“We thank the region’s congressional delegation for stepping up to the plate to make Great Lakes restoration a priority in the federal budget,” said Skelding. “Great Lakes programs are producing results—but there’s more work to do. We look forward to working with the U.S. Congress and President Obama to continue supporting Great Lakes programs that offer some of the best returns on the dollar in the federal budget.”

The Brookings Institution found that restoration activities generate at least $2 for every $1 investment. Economists at Grand Valley State University in Michigan concluded that a $10 million investment to restore Muskegon Lake in Michigan is generating more than $66 million return on investment through higher property values, increased tourism and an expanded tax base.

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is supporting more than 900 local projects in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin aimed at restoring the Great Lakes, which provide drinking water for 30 million people and support one of the world’s largest regional economies. More than 1.5 million U.S. jobs are directly connected to the Great Lakes, generating $62 billion in wages annually, according to an analysis by Michigan Sea Grant at the University of Michigan.

The budget bill did not include an amendment offered by Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) that would have forced the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to complete in 18 months its study that examines options to separate the Great Lakes and Mississippi River. Completion of the study is essential in the effort to keep the non-native Asian carp out of the Great Lakes.

States will receive the following estimated funds through the Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund based on a set national formula.

State

Fiscal year 2011 funding

Fiscal Year 2012 funding (estimate)

Illinois

 $68,777,500.00

 $66,243,150.00

Indiana

 $36,600,000.00

 $35,251,300.00

Michigan

 $65,422,500.00

 $63,011,800.00

Minnesota

 $27,907,500.00

 $26,879,100.00

New York

 $167,902,500.00

 $161,715,500.00

Ohio

 $85,705,000.00

 $82,546,900.00

Pennsylvania

 $60,237,500.00

 $58,017,800.00

Wisconsin

 $41,175,000.00

 $39,657,800.00

Total

 $553,727,500.00

 $533,323,450.00

The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition consists of more than 120 environmental, conservation, outdoor recreation organizations, zoos, aquariums and museums representing millions of people, whose common goal is to restore and protect the Great Lakes.

For more information visit: http://www.healthylakes.org

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