- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 5, 2004

CHICAGO (AP) — Dozens of government and tribal leaders are joining forces to preserve the Great Lakes from environmental dangers, but some say more money and a clear action plan are needed to complete the task.

Friday’s gathering, where participants signed a declaration of support for cleaning up the Great Lakes, was prompted by an executive order issued in May by President Bush. He named a 10-member Cabinet-level task force, chaired by Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael O. Leavitt, to coordinate cleanup among states, federal agencies and Canada.

“For the first time, we’ll demonstrate to the Congress and the nation that the Great Lakes community speaks with one voice. For the first time, we will make the restoration of the Great Lakes a national priority,” said Ohio Gov. Bob Taft, a Republican and co-chairman of the Council of Great Lakes Governors.

Rep. Rahm Emanuel, Illinois Democrat, said he supports the effort if it is backed with a funding commitment from Congress. He said action must be taken soon to reduce environmental threats to the Great Lakes.

The Government Accountability Office found last year that 33 federal and 17 state programs have spent more than $1.7 billion on the environmental restoration of the Great Lakes. The efforts were uncoordinated, however, and the results were difficult to measure, the GAO said.

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