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Environment


A little goes a long way in Great Lakes clean-up dollars
Environmentalists and deficit hawks are happy with continued support for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative
by WKSU's JEFF ST. CLAIR


Reporter / Host
Jeff St. Clair
 
Huntington beach along Lake Erie's shore. A bipartisan group of lawmakers and environmentalists are supporting continued funding of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. The $300 million allocation is spread among 11 federal agencies and all five Great Lakes.
Courtesy of Jeff St.Clair
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Lawmakers in Washington are sharpening their rhetoric in preparation for battles over President Obama’s budget.  But one issue affecting Ohioans is involves cooperation across the aisle.

WKSU’s Jeff St.Clair reports on bipartisan efforts to ensure funds for Great Lakes restoration.

St.Clair - Great Lakes restoration funding

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The $300 million allocated next year for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is a less-than .01 percent-drop-in-the-bucket in the president’s $3.8 trillion spending plan. But it’s an important drop, according to Chad Lord. He’s spokesman for the Great Lakes Coalition, a group of more than 100 environmental organizations pushing for the clean-up dollars.

He says, the $300 million is not enough, "but let’s face it, we’re not in a situation where the federal budget is unlimited.”

The two-year-old Great Lakes clean-up project could easily have ended up on the budget chopping block, so Lord is happy to see the president renew the spending at current levels.

It will avoid the ax in the House if Geauga County Republican David Joyce has his way. He’s garnering Republican support for the initiative, in part because his 14th district includes a wide swath of Lake Erie. Joyce says, "It’s something that’s important for tourism; it’s important for sportsmen; it’s a drinking water supply.”

The project’s goals are ambitious for the size of its pocket-book. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is spread across 11 federal agencies tasked with cleaning up pollution, preventing invasive species, cleaning up farm runoff and toxic algae, and restoring habitats. The initiative is currently funding about 18 projects in Ohio worth about $48.5 million. 

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