Washington, DC – U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, joined with their Great Lakes colleagues this week to call for $475 million for the Great Lakes in the combined Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill. The Senate version of the legislation only included $400 million, whereas the house version has $475 million. Schumer and Gillibrand are urging the conference committee tasked with combining the bills to approve the higher number. New York shares roughly 700 miles of coastline with the Great Lakes.
“The Great Lakes are natural treasures and an economic and recreational engine for the state, not to mention the source of drinking water for many New Yorkers” said Schumer. “We must do everything we can to protect them from pollution, invasive species and other contamination so that future generations can enjoy their beauty and abundance. That is why I am fighting for this restoration funding to protect these natural resources now and in the future.”
“The Great Lakes are an indispensable natural, economic, and recreational resource for New York,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Restoration of the Great Lakes is critical to preserving our environment and revitalizing our economy. I will continue to work with Senator Schumer to ensure our Lakes have the best chance for improvement and protection.”
The Great Lakes account for 90 percent of the United States fresh water and 20 percent of the world’s fresh water supply. More than 40 million people currently rely on the Great Lakes for drinking water.
A study by the Brookings Institute detailed the economic impact on restoring the Lakes and estimated that restoration of the Lakes would have a $50 billion economic impact, through new construction, job creation, rising property values and environmental restoration of local fish habitats.
In their letter to the House-Senate Conference Committee, Senators Schumer and Gillibrand wrote, “The health of the Great Lakes is threatened by aquatic invasive species, contaminated sediment, nonpoint source pollution, and habitat loss. According to some scientific views, the Great Lakes are at a tipping point. Failure to protect and restore the lakes now will result in more serious consequences.”
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