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      Push to continue Great Lakes cleanup programs

      U.S. senators from the Great Lakes region are pushing for action on legislation that would continue a wide-ranging cleanup program for five more years.

      The Obama administration established the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative in 2009. It has provided more than $1 billion for projects to make progress on the region's biggest environmental threats, such as invasive species, toxic pollution, habitat loss and toxic algae.

      Pending legislation would authorize continued funding of the initiative through 2018.

      In a letter this week, Sens. Carl Levin of Michigan and Mark Kirk of Illinois urged leaders of the Environment and Public Works Committee to approve the measure.

      Levin and Kirk are co-chairmen of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force. Eight of their colleagues also signed the letter.