Quantcast

Great Lakes Advocates Gather in Cleveland to Earn Commitments from Obama, Romney

Healing Our Waters—Great Lakes Coalition

With the fate of federal Great Lakes restoration programs uncertain and the Asian carp crisis escalating, Great Lakes advocates are gathering in Cleveland to press Obama and Romney campaign officials to explain their Great Lakes platforms. The gathering is part of the 8th Annual Great Lakes Restoration Conference, which attracts more than 400 people from the states of Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, New York, Indiana, Illinois and Pennsylvania.

“The millions of people who depend on the Great Lakes for their drinking water, jobs and way of life deserve to know where President Obama and Governor Romney stand on restoring the largest source of fresh water in the world,” said Jeff Skelding, campaign director for the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition, which hosts the conference. “We need the next president to show leadership on this issue. Great Lakes restoration is not a Democratic or Republican issue—it is an issue of national significance and utmost urgency.”

You can watch the conference live at www.healthylakes.org courtesy of coverage by Detroit Public Television and Cleveland Ideastream.

The conference, which runs Sept. 11 - 13, comes as the presidential election heats up. Representatives of the Obama and Romney election campaigns will address the gathering Thursday, Sept. 13 at 10:30 a.m.

Carol M. Browner, former White House energy and climate change director for President Obama and former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency administrator under President Bill Clinton, will be representing the Obama campaign. The Romney campaign is confirming its representative.

Great Lakes advocates are asking both candidates to maintain Great Lakes restoration funding and to commit to building a physical barrier to stop Asian carp from invading the Lakes. The actions are part of the coalition’s Great Lakes Protection and Restoration Candidate Pledge.

Great Lakes issues have played prominently in the last two presidential elections—attracting support from both Republican and Democratic candidates. In 2004, then-president George Bush signed an executive order declaring the Great Lakes as a resource of national significance and establishing the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration, which led to the crafting of a $20 billion plan to restore and protect the Great Lakes.

In 2008, then-candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney all committed their support to the Great Lakes. After the election, President Obama launched the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, a multi-year investment in the Great Lakes aimed at confronting urgent problems such as invasive species, habitat destruction, toxic pollution and run-off from farms and cities.

The next president and U.S. Congress face tough budget choices—expiring tax cuts, looming sequestration and ongoing budget negotiations—that could affect critical restoration efforts. The opening plenary on Tuesday explored the challenging political and economic landscape and what it means for federal Great Lakes restoration investments, which have eclipsed more than $1 billion over the last three years.

In communities around the region, restoration projects are protecting drinking water, improving public health and recreation and creating jobs.

In the Greater Cleveland area, wetlands are being restored on sites that housed piles of industrial waste. Fish habitat is being created by repurposing part of an old, abandoned marina. Streams and rivers are being given more natural hydrological forms to reduce flooding and sediment pollution. Neighbors are being enlisted to maintain rain barrels and rain gardens to reduce the impact of run-off on a nearby stream. These and other projects are chronicled in Cleveland Great Lakes Restoration Projects Producing Results for People, Communities—a new coalition collection of inspiring restoration success stories, showing how the work is helping people, the environment, wildlife and the economy.

“Restoration projects are producing results, but there is more work to do,” said Skelding. “Both President Obama and Governor Romney need to remain resolute in their commitment to protect and restore the Great Lakes. Cutting funding and failing to address the Asian carp crisis will make projects more difficult and expensive the longer we wait.”

Ohio voters know how important Lake Erie is to their economy and the environment, and want the federal government to spend money on protection and restoration. Seventy-two percent of Ohio voters from across the political spectrum—Republicans, Democrats and Independents—want federal funding to continue to support restoration work, according to a poll released in June by the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. The poll also found that far more voters favor, rather than oppose, building a physical barrier to stop the advance of the invasive Asian carp into the Great Lakes.

“We are making progress so the nation cannot let its guard down in the effort to protect the Great Lakes,” said Skelding. “We’re asking each presidential candidate to commit to restoring a piece of America that helps define who we are as a people and nation.”

Visit EcoWatch’s WATER page for more related news on this topic.

--------

The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition consists of 120 environmental, conservation, outdoor recreation organizations, zoos, aquariums and museums representing millions of people, whose common goal is to restore and protect the Great Lakes.

 

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sled dog teams pull researchers from the Danish Meteorological Institute through meltwater on the Greenland ice sheet in early June, 2019. Danish Meteorological Institute / Steffen M. Olsen

By Jon Queally

In yet the latest shocking image depicting just how fast the world's natural systems are changing due to the global climate emergency, a photograph showing a vast expanse of melted Arctic ice in Greenland — one in which a pair of sled dog teams appear to be walking on water — has gone viral.

Read More Show Less
CAFOs often store animal waste in massive, open-air lagoons, like this one at Vanguard Farms in Chocowinity, North Carolina. Bacteria feeding on the animal waste turns the mixture a bright pink. picstever / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

By Tia Schwab

It has been almost a year since Hurricane Florence slammed the Carolinas, dumping a record 30 inches of rainfall in some parts of the states. At least 52 people died, and property and economic losses reached $24 billion, with nearly $17 billion in North Carolina alone. Flood waters also killed an estimated 3.5 million chickens and 5,500 hogs.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Members of the NY Renews coalition gathered before New York lawmakers reached a deal on the Climate and Communities Protection Act. NYRenews / Twitter

By Julia Conley

Grassroots climate campaigners in New York applauded on Monday after state lawmakers reached a deal on sweeping climate legislation, paving the way for the passage of what could be some of the country's most ambitious environmental reforms.

Read More Show Less
In this picture taken on June 4, an Indian boatman walks amid boats on the dried bed of a lake at Nalsarovar Bird Sanctuary, on the eve of World Environment Day. Sam Panthaky / AFP / Getty Images

By Julia Conley

Nearly 50 people died on Saturday in one Indian state as record-breaking heatwaves across the country have caused an increasingly desperate situation.

Read More Show Less
A man carries a poster in New York City during the second annual nationwide March For Science on April 14, 2018. Kena Betancur / Getty Images

By Will J. Grant

In an ideal world, people would look at issues with a clear focus only on the facts. But in the real world, we know that doesn't happen often.

People often look at issues through the prism of their own particular political identity — and have probably always done so.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

YinYang / E+ / Getty Images

In a blow to the Trump administration, the Supreme Court ruled Monday to uphold a Virginia ban on mining uranium, Reuters reported.

Read More Show Less
Ragú Old World Style Traditional is one of three flavors named in a voluntary recall. Mike Mozart / CC BY 2.0

Spaghetti with plastic sauce? That's what you might be eating if you pour one of three flavors of Ragú sauce over your pasta.

Mizkan America, the food company that owns Ragú, announced Saturday that it was voluntarily recalling some Chunky Tomato Garlic & Onion, Old World Style Traditional and Old World Style Meat sauces because they might be contaminated with plastic fragments, The Today Show reported.

Read More Show Less
A butterfly in the National Butterfly Center, a private sanctuary for butterflies in southern Texas, on Jan. 22. Maren Hennemuth / picture alliance / Getty Images

While Trump's border wall has yet to be completed, the threat it poses to pollinators is already felt, according to the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas, as reported by Transmission & Distribution World.

Read More Show Less