Progress Made To Restore & Protect Great Lakes At Risk Of Unravelling

As United States  Marks  48th Anniversary of Clean Water Act, Buffalo, New York Area Congressman Brian Higgins Leads Effort to Protect Its Progress

A News Release from the Buffalo, New York Office of U.S. Congressman Brian Higgins

Posted October 23rd, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Great Lakes Task Force Members Press to Safeguard the Fresh Water System Which is Vital to the Environment & Economy

Our shared Great Lakes from space. A source of life-sustaining fresh water to tens-of-millons of Canadians and Americans, and a wealth of wildlife.

This week (October 19th thru October 25th), as the United States marks the 48th anniversary of the Clean Water Act, Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) and colleagues on the Great Lakes Task Force warned the progress made to restore and protect the Great Lakes is at risk of unravelling.

In the letter encouraging continued investments and highlighting the threats posed by recent environmental rollbacks, the Great Lakes Task Force Members write: –

“The Great Lakes contain 84% of North America’s fresh water, see 200 million tons of cargo per year, and are home to over 30 million people in their basin. Efforts like the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement have made significant strides to revitalize the Great Lakes, reverse decades of industrial pollution, and create action plans to continue to on this course.

“However, the Trump Administration’s rollbacks to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules, efforts to dismantle the Clean Water Act, and consistent attacks on the environment present an imminent threat that requires Congressional attention.”

Among so many other things, Trump has spent the last three and a half years gutting rules and regulations for protecting the environment, including the waters of our Great Lakes. Hopefully, his war on the environment is almost over.

Congressmembers Ron Kind (WI-3), Jan Schakowsky (IL-9), Debbie Dingell (MI-12), Bill Foster (IL-11) and Andy Levin (MI-9) joined Congressman Higgins on the letter which also noted how the Trump Administration’s repeal of several Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) rules jeopardize the health and vitality of the Great Lakes as well as the economies of communities on their shores.

In addition to rolling back environmental protections, President Trump has repeatedly proposed massive cuts or complete elimination of federal Great Lakes funding. The President proposed to eliminate the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) in his 2018 budget and cut GLRI by 90% in 2019 & 2020.

In each instance Congress stepped up to restore the funding.

A study shows that for every federal dollar invested through the GLRI, Great Lakes regions see on average $3.35 dollars of economic return.  In Buffalo the impact is even greater – yielding $4 in additional economic activity for each dollar invested in Great Lakes cleanup.

Thank you to Buffalo area Congressman Brian Higgins from Niagara at Large and, I’m sure, many NAL readers for being one of too few federal politicians on either side of the border to so often speak out for our Great Lakes.

In 1968, the Buffalo River caught fire due to contamination from heavy industrial development. The River was “devoid of oxygen and almost sterile,” coated with a thick oil film from industrial waste, combined sewer overflow outfalls, and garbage.

Environmental atrocities like this in Western New York and across the nation inspired a grassroots push for change which led to the first Earth Day in 1970. Subsequently, the Clean Water Act was signed into law by President Nixon on October 18, 1972 following decades of unchecked pollution.

To read a letter Buffalo, New York area Congressman Brian Higgins and fellow members of Congress in the Great Lakes region addressed to U.S. Congressional Leader Nancy Pelosi on this issue, click on – <https://higgins.house.gov/sites/higgins.house.gov/files/HIGGINS%20-%20EPA%20Rollbacks%2010.23.20.pdf>

NIAGARA AT LARGE Encourages You To Join The Conversation By Sharing Your Views On This Post In The Space Following The Bernie Sanders Quote Below.

“A Politician Thinks Of The Next Election. A Leader Thinks Of The Next Generation.” – Bernie Sanders

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