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CCE IN THE NEWS

Source: The Buffalo News

Letter to the editor: Restoring Great Lakes should be a top priority

Posted: August 1, 2012
Originally Published: August 1, 2012

In a recent column "Great Lakes system faces serious threats," Douglas Turner correctly stated that the Great Lakes face significant threats ranging from phosphorus pollution to invasive species. He also recognized that action must be taken to address these problems before damage becomes irreparable. Fortunately, we have workable solutions that already exist.

The International Joint Commission's proposed lake level plan for Lake Ontario, known as Plan Bv7, provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to restore the lake ecosystem. For 60 years, damaging regulation has forced unnatural water fluctuations in Lake Ontario, causing severe ecological damage and limiting lucrative recreational opportunities. Plan Bv7 can bring back more natural cycles that will restore thousands of acres of wetlands, revive fish and wildlife populations, and provide significant economic benefits, including enhanced hydropower production.

Congress has provided more than a billion dollars for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) in recent years, which supports aggressive efforts to address the most pressing threats facing the lakes. The GLRI is producing results for both the environment and economy, and has supported more than 70 restoration projects in New York. According to the Brookings Institution, every dollar invested in restoration will provide at least two dollars in economic returns. Yet the House of Representatives is proposing a shortsighted $50 million cut to the GLRI in the upcoming federal budget.

The Great Lakes provide drinking water for millions of people, support-billion dollar industries, offer unparalleled recreational opportunities and enhance our quality of life. There is no question that the lakes are in trouble, and need our help. The only question that remains is if we have the leadership to implement solutions. Plan Bv7 and a fully funded Great Lakes Restoration Initiative deserve everyone's support.

Brian P. Smith

Program and Communications Director

Citizens Campaign for the Environment