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Making Our Great Lakes a Priority


By U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow


Just like a family budget, the federal budget is about values and priorities.  Just a short time ago, President Obama unveiled his budget proposal.  Through critical investments in energy, heath care and education, the president’s budget takes bold action to turn around our economy, create jobs, and restore the middle-class.


In the coming weeks and months, you will hear a lot about the Senate and the president working together to craft a final budget that mirrors the priorities of the American people.  Much of it has already been reported by the media, including a major push to make health care affordable and accessible for everyone.


But one of the budget items that has not received as much attention is the $475 million in Great Lakes funding the president recommends for combating invasive species, fighting pollution, and controlling contamination.


I’ve lived in Michigan my whole life, and I know, as you do, that the beautiful Great Lakes are a vital part of our way of life, as well as a critical engine of the American economy.  However, in their 10,000-year history, our lakes have never been in as much danger as they are today.  They are being threatened by invasive species, low water levels, pollution, and global climate change. 


The president’s focus on restoring our Great Lakes is just the most recent victory for our lakes.


As a member of the Agriculture Committee, I was very involved in writing the 2008 farm bill, which included a number of programs that will improve Great Lakes water quality and habitat and provided a framework for funding in the President’s budget.


Also last year, I helped secure funding to create a barrier to keep Asian carp out of Lake Michigan.  This invasive species rapidly multiplies and has the potential to destroy the lake as we know it.  In addition, the Great Lakes Compact was signed into law.  This historic agreement puts into law what we all know – every state that borders our lakes has an interest and should have the authority to protect their future.


Times are tough right now in Michigan, but our Great Lakes always provide us with an economic resource unique to our region.  Restoring our lakes is not only a moral imperative, but presents us with a real economic opportunity.


According to a major study, implementing a comprehensive strategy to restore our lakes could bring $100 billion in short and long-term economic gains for our region – creating good-paying jobs throughout our state.

As a member of the Senate Finance, Budget, Agriculture, and Energy Committees, I will work closely with President Obama and his administration to make sure that the commitment made toward the Great Lakes becomes a reality.


Our lakes are an inseparable part of our economy, history and culture, and must be protected.  Our economy and our Michigan way of life depend on them.  I will never forget that, and I will never give up the fight to protect our Great Lakes.








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