September 19, 2008

House OKs Great Lakes Cleanup Bill Act Would Triple Funding


Washington --- The House approved a measure Thursday that could help clean up pollution in the Great Lakes.

The Great Lakes Legacy Act, passed 371-20, authorizes $150 million a year for cleanup efforts by the Environmental Protection Agency.

"The greatest resource we have in Milwaukee is in fact Lake Michigan," said Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Milwaukee). "We have a great deal at stake in this."

But she also noted that the bill itself would not allocate any additional money. Congress would have to include the funding in future spending bills.

"We'll have to see what happens ultimately," she said.

All Wisconsin's House members voted for the bill.

Toxic sediment has led to a degradation of fish and wildlife populations and habitat in the lakes, and Congress must act to make sure future generations can enjoy "these precious resources," said Rep. Steve Kagen (D-Appleton).

Moore noted that while there has been some progress in reducing the discharge of toxic chemicals into the lakes, high concentrations still remain at the bottom of rivers and harbors in the region.

The House bill would triple the annual funding available for Great Lakes cleanup. The Senate would have to act before the bill could become law.

The Great Lakes basin is home to 43 "areas of concern," which are heavily polluted sites in need of remediation, and the United States' and Canada's record of cleaning those areas has been criticized.

Wisconsin's areas of concern include portions of the Milwaukee, Menomonee and Kinnickinnic rivers in Milwaukee, the Sheboygan River and the Fox River in northeastern Wisconsin.


Dan Egan of the Journal Sentinel staff contributed to this report from Milwaukee.

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