Coalition Successes: Great Lakes, Teaming With Wildlife In DC

Last week more than 120 citizen activists representing all eight Great Lakes states arrived in Washington, DC for the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition fly-in. After discussing upcoming legislative issues such as a cap-and-invest bill that would dedicate revenues to restoration, ballast water regulation, and the urgent need for toxic sediment cleanup, participants heard from two representatives of the new administration. In their addresses to participants, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and Council on Environmental Quality Director Nancy Sutley reaffirmed President Obama’s commitment to the Great Lakes and to all of America's "Great Waters."

As Coalition members convened on Capitol Hill and visited the Great Lakes Congressional delegation, good news filtered from the White House and was confirmed with the release of the President’s budget. President Obama included $475 million dollars in new Great Lakes restoration funding—marking the largest Presidential commitment to the lakes' in history.  The budget also dedicated $3.9 billion to the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund programs of which more than $1 billion could flow to the Great Lakes.

At the same time, the Teaming With Wildlife coalition went to Capitol Hill to ask members of Congress for immediate action on global warming. 100 coalition members from more than 30 states called for a comprehensive climate bill with dedicated funding to protect our natural resources. Other top priorities include the passage of the Teaming With Wildlife Act and funding for fiscal year 09/10 State Wildlife Grant appropriations.

At an evening reception on the Hill, Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D–TX) and Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-KS) were among those honored for their work protecting wildlife from global warming. Larry Schweiger, President and CEO of NWF, challenged Congress to make the most of the opportunities presented by a new political and economic landscape, urging the creation of green jobs based on clean energy and a healthy environment.

Published: March 3, 2009