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Sequester cuts affecting long-range plan to clean up Great Lakes


WASHINGTON D.C. (WTAQ) - A long-range plan to clean up the Great Lakes is being hurt by the new automatic cuts in federal spending.

That’s what local leaders in the Great Lakes Region told lawmakers Wednesday during their annual lobbying trip to Capitol Hill.

State and local government officials, business owners, and environmental groups asked to get a break from the $85 billion in automatic cuts. They said if the cuts continue, local economies could be hurt at times of low water levels.

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has spent $300 million in each of the last two years to clean up sewage, and improve shorelines and water quality. If the “sequester” cuts continue, this year’s allocation would shrink to $275 million.

Jeff Skedling of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition said it would not save Americans one penny.

Michigan House Republican Candace Miller said the Great Lakes cleanup must stay a top priority, but the reality is that some spending cuts must be made. She vowed not to make the cleanups take the brunt of the cuts unfairly.

The federal EPA issued a report card Wednesday on the Great Lakes project. It said a million cubic yards of contaminated sediment were cleaned up in fiscal 2011, and progress was made in removing toxic hot spots.