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Durbin criticizes plan to cut funds to cleanup program by 80 percent

Updated: July 29, 2013 3:51PM

Sen. Dick Durbin on Monday slammed a House plan to cut funding to a Great Lakes environmental cleanup program by nearly 80 percent.

Last week, the Republican-controlled House Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Subcommittee passed a bill that would spend $60 million on the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, far less than the $285 million in this year’s budget. The bill now heads to the full House Appropriations Committee.

“The House’s funding cuts would cripple our ability to ward off Asian carp, clean up beaches contaminated by E. coli, and prevent polluted runoff from entering the Great Lakes,” said Durbin, D-Ill.

The Great Lakes program is designed to clean up toxins, fight invasive species, restore habitats, and protect watersheds.

Durbin said, “I get tired of some of the politicians in Michigan or other places criticizing us for not doing enough with Asian carp and then their congressmen go up to Washington and cut the spending for the program. Can’t have it both ways.”

Durbin added the planned cutbacks are short-sighted and Joel Brammeier, president and CEO of the Alliance for the Great Lakes agreed.

Brammeier said stopping restoration work now, makes it more costly in the future. But he’s hopeful the plan won’t pass.

“Given the previous years of bipartisan support for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, I have to believe that we have a strong, strong chance of restoring full funding to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative,” Brammeier said. “The budget that was put before the appropriations committee in the house, frankly was unrealistic.”

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