Niagara Gazette — President George W. Bush signed cleanup legislation but provided little money. Obama requested ample funding.
The federal grants go to government agencies, nonprofits, Indian tribes and universities. They've restored wildlife habitat, advanced cleanups of river mouths fouled with PCBs and strengthened defenses against the dreaded Asian carp.
The congressional supporters are pushing the program this fall even as conservatives gear up for another clash with Obama over spending. Thirty-eight members of Congress have endorsed a request for $300 million for 2014. Joyce is seeking $475 million.
The program's popularity with industry helps give Republicans political cover. In a region beset with the collapse of its manufacturing backbone, the lakes are essential to building a "blue economy" based on abundant water, said Ed Wolking of the Detroit Regional Chamber.
Duffy, a second-term conservative, said he sees no inconsistency in supporting the lake funding while voting to slash trillions in spending elsewhere.
"This is a national treasure, so national money should go to it," said Duffy, who grew up near Lake Superior.