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GLIN==> U.S. House Committee Passes Act to Clean Up Toxic Pollution in Great Lakes

U.S. House Committee Passes Act to Clean Up Toxic Pollution in Great Lakes
ANN ARBOR, MICH. (July 31, 2008) – The U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee today passed the Great Lakes Legacy Act of 2008, sending to the full floor a bill that funds the clean up of toxic pollution around the largest source of surface fresh water in the United States.
“Cleaning up toxic pollution in the Great Lakes is essential to our public health, economy and way of life,” said Jeff Skelding, national campaign director for the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. “We urge the U.S. Senate to pass and fund this important and successful clean-up program so we can put an end to drinking water restrictions, beach closings and fish consumption advisories for the millions of people who depend on the Great Lakes.”
Introduced by Representatives Vernon Ehlers (R-Mich.) and James Oberstar (D-Minn.), the Great Lakes Legacy Act of 2008 (H.R. 6460) passed the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee by voice vote.
“We applaud Representatives Ehlers and Oberstar for their leadership and urge the full U.S. House and Congress to quickly pass and fund this important program,” said Skelding.
Earlier in the day, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee passed the Legacy Act out of committee, setting the stage for the U.S. Congress to pass the act, which funds the clean-up of contaminated sediments in Great Lakes harbors and tributaries.
Designated “Areas of Concern” by the U.S. and Canadian governments, the polluted sites pose threats to human health and to fish and wildlife populations.  Yet of the 31 sites in the United States or shared with Canada, only one site – Oswego River – has been de-listed since 1987. (A list of U.S. Areas of Concern in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin is below.)
“The pace of clean-up has been too slow,” said Skelding. “We have solutions. It is time to use them. Delay will only exacerbate the problem and cost more to solve. It is time for Congress to stand up for our lakes, our economy and our public health by passing and funding this essential program.”
The Great Lakes Legacy Act is a top priority for the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. The Great Lakes Legacy Act of 2008 reauthorizes the Great Lakes Legacy Act for five years and increases the authorization of funds from $54 million to $150 million per year. Experts peg the total cost of cleaning up the sites at between $1.5 billion and $4.5 billion.
Cleaning up toxic pollution in the U.S. Areas of Concern will increase coastal property value for at least $12 billion to $19 billion, according to the Brookings Institution.
The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition consists of more than 100 zoos, aquariums, museums, and hunting, fishing, and environmental organizations representing millions of people, whose common goal is to restore and protect the Great Lakes.
For more information: http://www.healthylakes.org/
For Immediate Release:
July 31, 2008
Jeff Skelding, Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition, (202) 797-6893, jskelding@nwf.org
Jordan Lubetkin, Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition, (734) 904-1589, lubetkin@nwf.org 
Chad Lord, Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition, (202) 454-3385, clord@npca.org
United States Areas of Concern include:
Waukegan Harbor, Illinois
Grand Calumet River, Indiana
Clinton River, Michigan
Deer Lake, Michigan
Detroit River, Michigan
Kalamazoo River, Michigan
Manistique River, Michigan
Muskegon Lake, Michigan
River Raisin, Michigan
Rouge River, Michigan
Saginaw River and Bay, Michigan
St. Clair River, Michigan
St. Marys River, Michigan
Torch Lake, Michigan
White Lake, Michigan
Buffalo River, New York
EighteenMile Creek, New York
Niagara River, New York
Oswego River/Harbor, New York
Rochester Embayment, New York
St. Lawrence River at Massena, New York
Ashtabula River, Ohio
Black River, Ohio
Cuyahoga River, Ohio
Maumee River, Ohio
Presque Isle Bay, Pennsylvania
St. Louis River and Bay, Minnesota and Wisconsin
Lower Green Bay and Fox River, Wisconsin
Menominee River, Wisconsin
Milwaukee Estuary, Wisconsin
Sheboygan River, Wisconsin
Jordan Lubetkin
Senior Regional Communications Manager
National Wildlife Federation - Great Lakes Office
213 West Liberty, Suite 200 | Ann Arbor, MI 48104
Phone: 734-887-7109 | Fax: 734-887-7199 | Cell: 734-904-1589
NWF's mission is to inspire Americans to protect wildlife for our children's future. www.nwf.org/news/
Working to restore the Great Lakes by offering solutions to sewage contamination, invasive species and other threats. www.healthylakes.org