Fund the Great Lakes Restoration Initiave

Last week we touted passage of the Water Resources Act and the more than half a billion dollars it provides for water programs including dredging efforts in Great Lakes harbors.

And while we applaud the federal funding, we hope it is added to and not replacing other federal Great Lakes programs

In fact, U.S. senators from the Great Lakes region are doing their best to make sure that doesn’t happen. The senators, including Michigan’s Carl Levin, are pushing for action on legislation that would continue a Great Lakes cleanup program for at least five more years.

In 2009, the Obama administration established the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. Since its inception the program has provided more than a billion dollars for projects to make progress on some of the Lake’s biggest environmental threats. Among the topics addressed are invasive species, toxic pollution, habitat loss and toxic algae.

Legislation before both Houses of Congress would authorize continued funding of the initiative through 2018.

Levin, with Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois, wrote a letter last week to leaders of the Environment and Public Works Committee to approve the re-authorization. Levin and Kirk are co-chairs of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force. Eight of their colleagues also signed the letter.

Those of use living near the planet’s largest source of fresh water know the importance of the Great Lakes and the threat to their future posed by the issues listed above. We certainly are for fiscal responsibility on the federal level, but one cannot put a price tag on keeping the Great Lakes clean.

To do anything but continue this vital initiative would be irresponsible.