Oberstar's $14 billion bill to clean water passes House

  • Updated: March 12, 2009 - 8:15 PM

WASHINGTON - The U.S. House passed a $14 billion water quality bill Thursday intended to create jobs, clean up the Great Lakes and help cities like Duluth build new wastewater treatment systems.

The long-stalled legislation, a signature initiative of Iron Range Democrat Jim Oberstar, was approved 317-101 but still faces several hurdles in the Senate.

"The agenda for clean water is for this generation," Oberstar said. "We have to manage it well."

Much of the bill's funding would provide grants and low-interest loans to local communities for construction of wastewater treatment facilities and other water pollution projects. Duluth is expected to seek funding under the program to alleviate sewer system overflow problems, which have been cited by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The final bill merges five water quality bills that cleared the House in 2007 and 2008 but were bottled up in the Senate under veto threats from former President Bush.

Two Minnesota Republicans, John Kline and Michele Bachmann, voted against the consolidated bill. The rest of the Minnesota delegation voted for it.

KEVIN DIAZ

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