Groups Urge Congress to Restore Funding for Great Lakes to Protect Drinking Water, Create Jobs
A coalition of Great Lakes states, municipalities, tribes, businesses, industries and conservation groups is urging Congress to restore funding to programs to heal the Great Lakes. In a letter released on Thursday, the groups are asking lawmakers to reject massive cuts proposed in a U.S. House budget and to maintain the nation’s commitment to the Lakes, the source of drinking water for more than 30 million people.
The letter’s release comes days before hundreds of Great Lakes supporters from conservation organizations, businesses, industry, academia and public officials gather in Milwaukee, WI, Sept. 9-12 as part of Great Lakes Week.
The groups are pushing to reinstate funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which supports efforts to clean up toxic contamination, reduce runoff from cities and farms, confront invasive species like Asian carp, and restore fish and wildlife habitat; and for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, which provides low-interest loans to communities to fix sewers to prevent water pollution and keep beaches open.
Both programs were cut roughly 80 percent in a House budget released in July. The restoration initiative was cut from $285 million to $60 million, while the clean water fund was slashed from $1.37 billion to $250 million. An amendment would boost Great Lakes restoration funding to $210 million.
Signatories to the letter—which include the Chippewa Ottawa Resource Authority, Council of Great Lakes Industries, Great Lakes Commission, Great Lakes Fishery Commission, Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, Great Lakes Metro Chambers Coalition and the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition—are asking Congress to fund the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative at $300 million and the Clean Water State Revolving Fund at its current level of $1.37 billion. A draft U.S. Senate funding bill proposes funding the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative at $300 million and increasing funding for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund to $1.45 billion.
“The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative helps to achieve priorities established by nearly 1,500 stakeholders who participated in the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration," said Kathryn Buckner, president of the Council of Great Lakes Industries. "The region’s industries were part of that process and are strong supporters of programs that help to manage our economic, social and natural resources sustainably.”
“The federal government has recognized the importance of the priorities established during the Collaboration and needs to continue supporting the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and Clean Water State Revolving Fund to fulfill that vision,” Buckner continued.
Signatories to the letter helped craft, and later supported the enactment of, the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy to Restore and Protect the Great Lakes, a 2005 plan initiated by President George W. Bush calling for a $20 billion investment to restore the Lakes.
Over the last four years, President Obama and the U.S. Congress have invested more than $1.37 billion through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to implement that plan. More than 1,500 projects have been funded. Those projects are producing results in communities across the region.
The Great Lakes Commission has created an interactive map and searchable database of projects funded in the initiative’s first three years.
“The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the Clean Water State Revolving Fund program have been tremendously beneficial in helping states throughout the region clean up and restore our waters,” said Kenneth G. Johnson, chair, Great Lakes Commission. “These programs, coupled with states’ efforts, are helping us maximize the value of the Great Lakes as both a natural treasure and vital economic asset.”
“The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is providing critically needed resources to combat the introduction and spread of harmful aquatic invasive species such as Asian carp and sea lamprey,” said Bob Lambe, executive secretary, Great Lakes Fishery Commission. “It’s imperative that we safeguard the Great Lakes fishery, which generates $7 billion in economic activity annually for the United States.”
Much work remains, however. The letter warns: “cutting funding now will only slow restoration efforts, allowing problems to get worse and more expensive to solve.”
“Beach closings, fish consumption advisories, algal blooms and drinking water restrictions are all reminders that the Lakes still need our help,” said Todd Ambs, campaign director for the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. “We look forward to working with the Great Lakes congressional delegation to restore funding to programs that create jobs, protect drinking water, safeguard public health and uphold our quality of life.”
The Great Lakes are an economic driver for the eight-state region of Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, Indiana and Minnesota. More than 1.5 million U.S. jobs are directly connected to the Great Lakes, generating $62 billion in wages annually, according to an analysis by Michigan Sea Grant at the University of Michigan. The Lakes are the foundation for a $30 billion regional tourism industry.
Restoration efforts create jobs while providing long-term economic benefits. According to the Brookings Institution, every $1 invested in Great Lakes restoration produces at least $2 in economic benefits. Some studies suggest the return on investment is closer to six to one.
“As our defining natural asset, the quality of the Great Lakes is pivotal to the future of our region's economy,” said Ed Wolking, Jr., executive vice president for the Detroit Regional Chamber. “While we recognize that the federal budget must be reined in, and that there must be a greater balance between spending and revenues, we also urge Congress to consider continuing and completing the vital projects that make up the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.”
“All of our communities benefit from the actions made possible by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative,” said Jane A. TenEyck, executive director, Chippewa Ottawa Resource Authority. “We want to ensure that future generations are able to fish, hunt and enjoy the Great Lakes without worrying about pollution or invasive species.”
Visit EcoWatch’s WATER page for more related news on this topic.
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Russia's Health Ministry has given regulatory approval for the world's first COVID-19 vaccine after less than two months of human testing, President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday.
Putin's Daughter Among Vaccinated<p>The Russian leader also said that one of his daughters has already been inoculated and is feeling well.</p><p>"One of my daughters got vaccinated, so in this sense, she took part in the testing," Putin said.</p><p>After the first vaccine shot, his daughter experienced a slight fever, 38 degrees Celsius (100.4°F). Her temperature came down to just slightly above normal the next day. </p><p>"After the second shot, she had a slight fever again, and then everything was fine. She is feeling well and has a high antibody count," Putin said. </p><p>He didn't specify which of his two daughters, Maria or Katerina, received the vaccine.</p><p>Russian health authorities have said that medical workers, teachers and other risk groups will be the first to receive shots of the vaccine.</p>
Years of Work Reduced to Weeks<p>Russia is the first country to register a COVID-19 vaccine. As <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/germany-coronavirus-vaccine-may-only-be-available-in-mid-2021/a-54362065" target="_blank">countries worldwide race to produce the first vaccine</a>, health experts warn that speed and national pride could compromise safety.</p><p>Scientists in Russia and abroad have questioned Moscow's decision to register the vaccine before Phase 3 trials that normally last for months and involve thousands of people, but Putin emphasized that the vaccine underwent the necessary trials and that vaccination will be voluntary.</p><p>Russian officials have said that large-scale production of the vaccine will begin in September, and mass vaccination may start as early as October.</p><p>Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, meanwhile, has <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/philippines-duterte-volunteers-to-be-putins-russian-coronavirus-vaccine-guinea-pig/a-54523030" target="_blank">lauded Russia's efforts in developing the vaccine</a> and said that the Philippines is ready to work with Moscow on vaccine trials, supply and production. Duterte volunteered to "be the first they can experiment on."</p><p>"I will tell President Putin that I have huge trust in your studies in combating COVID and I believe that the vaccine that you have produced is really good for humanity," Duterte said, adding that he thinks Russia's vaccine will be ready for the Philippines by December.</p>
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By Arkilaus Kladit
My name is Arkilaus Kladit. I'm from the Knasaimos-Tehit tribe in South Sorong Regency, West Papua Province, Indonesia. For decades my tribe has been fighting to protect our forests from outsiders who want to log it or clear it for palm oil. For my people, the forest is our mother and our best friend. Everything we need to survive comes from the forest: food, medicines, building materials, and there are many sacred sites in the forest.
Map of the Knasaimos traditional lands.
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By Farah Aqel
Overthinkers are people who are buried in their own obsessive thoughts. Imagine being in a large maze where each turn leads into an even deeper and knottier tangle of catastrophic, distressing events — that is what it feels like to them when they think about the issues that confront them.
Ruminating<p>According to the late Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, a professor of psychology at Yale University, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5796420/" target="_blank">ruminating</a> involves replaying a problem over and over in your mind. We ruminate by obsessing over our thoughts and thinking repetitively about various aspects of a past situation.</p><p>It usually involves regret, self-loathing and self-blaming. Rumination is associated with the development of depression, anxiety and eating disorders. </p><p>People prone to such patterns of thought may, for example, overanalyze every single detail of a relationship that breaks up. They often blame themselves for what has happened and are overcome with regret, with typical thoughts being: </p><p>- I should have been more patient and more supportive. </p><p>- I have lost the most perfect partner ever. </p><p>- No one will love me again.</p>
Worrying<p>Worrying is wanting to predict the future. It involves negative thoughts about things that might and might not happen.</p><p>- They'll not like me in the interview; they'll not give me the job. </p><p>- I haven't heard back from other employers. How long will I be unemployed?</p><p>These thoughts are energy-draining and distressing. They could happen to anyone under stress. But when you reach the point where your thoughts and worrying are preventing you from doing what you want to do — from living your life to the fullest — then you should take action.</p>
Catch Yourself Overthinking<p>Reuben Berger, a psychotherapist at the university hospital in the western German city of Bonn, recommends several practical steps that you could employ in your daily routine when you catch yourself worrying or ruminating.</p><p>One effective remedy, says Berger, is the <a href="https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/uf9938" target="_blank">thought-stopping technique.</a></p><p>"When the negative thoughts come or ruminations start, you say to yourself: 'Stop!,'" he says, adding that it is more effective when you actually say the word out loud.</p><p>He even recommends having a rubber band around your wrist to ping against yourself while saying the word. Adding a visual component by imagining a stop sign also makes the technique more powerful, he says.</p><p>The main idea here is conditioning yourself to stop the loop of worrying (making future predictions) or rumination (obsessing over past events).</p><p>Berger says the technique could take up to two weeks to take effect and that it needs to be practiced every day. "Consistency is very important," he says. </p>
Thoughts Are Just Thoughts<p>Another way of dealing with negative thoughts often used in modern therapy is realizing that thoughts aren't facts, says Berger.</p><p>He says it is important when we think something to ask: Is that real? Did that really happen? What is the worst thing that could happen?</p><p>Flight anxiety is one example where untrue thoughts are accepted as facts. Although air travel is the safest way to get around, people suffering from fear of flying accept their thoughts and fears as reality, then act upon them by refusing to fly.</p>
Mindfulness<p>Berger also recommends the use of mindfulness techniques, in which attention is paid to experiences in the moment without judging them, as a way of reducing worrying.</p><p>"Mindfulness helps you to distance yourself from your thoughts and to be more present in the moment," he says.</p><p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3432145/#R2" target="_blank">Several studies</a> have shown that mindfulness has a positive impact on reducing stress-related behaviors such as rumination and worrying, as focusing on the moment makes anxiety about other problems impossible.</p><p>Mindfulness can be practiced during routine activities by paying attention to your body and your surroundings. For instance, when you leave for work in the morning, you can focus on sensing the breeze, listen attentively to birds, feel the gravel under your feet and monitor your breath. </p>
Trick Your Brain Into Happiness<p>People plagued by obsessive thoughts do not always choose healthy ways like mindfulness to distract from them, however.</p><p> Dr. Edward Selby, a psychologist at Florida state university, has shown in a study that people try to avoid rumination by engaging in a range of uncontrolled behaviors, such as binge eating and substance abuse.</p><p>But he says that a much better way to overcome such distress is by distraction and shifting attention away from problems that are obsessing us.</p><p>There are many activities that can be used to distract from rumination, he says, and people should choose the one that works best for them. Here are some examples:</p><p>- Listen to music</p><p>- Read a book</p><p>- Take a hot shower</p><p>- Dance or exercise </p><p>- Talk to a friend (not about the problem)</p><p>- Watch a movie</p><p>- Mindfulness meditation</p>
Changing the Perception of Events<p>The way people perceive a situation largely influences their emotions and behavior. It is not the situation itself that determines how they feel, but rather the way they interpret it.</p><p>Reframing negative thoughts can lead to positive emotions and, subsequently, healthier behaviors — including a reduction in damaging overthinking and worrying.</p><p>Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is currently a gold standard in psychotherapy. CBT aims to change the way people think and act. It largely involves challenging unhelpful beliefs or attitudes such as overgeneralization — thinking "I always fail at public speaking" when you have had one bad experience in front of an audience, for example — or "catastrophization," i.e., imagining the worst possible outcome to a situation. </p><p>A psychotherapist can teach people how to implement such thought-changing techniques into their lives. Techniques vary depending on their issues and goals.</p>
Solutions Are at Hand<p>Try to find ways of avoiding worrying, rumination and overthinking that make you feel most comfortable.</p><p>Incorporating any routine in your life when you're stressed isn't an easy task, but you can do it! If you feel overwhelmed, you can always seek professional help. </p><p><em>If you are suffering from serious emotional strain or suicidal thoughts, do not hesitate to seek professional help. You can find information on where to find such help, no matter where you live in the world, <a href="https://www.befrienders.org/" target="_blank">at this website.</a></em></p>
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