Reps. Levin, Slaughter, Joyce Lead Bipartisan Effort to Fully Fund the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative

Mar 22, 2016 Issues: Environment

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Reps. Sander Levin (D-MI), Louise Slaughter (D-NY) and David Joyce (R-OH) today led a bipartisan group of 55 House lawmakers in requesting $300 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) for Fiscal Year 2017. This successful initiative is helping restore the Great Lakes, which provide drinking water for nearly 40 million people and support jobs, commerce, agriculture, transportation, and tourism.  

“We can’t undo 150 years of pollution in the Great Lakes in just 7 years,” said Rep. Levin. “That’s why Congress must continue to fully fund Great Lakes restoration. Now is not the time to cut this vital effort.”

“The Great Lakes are critical to our region and are a key source of drinking water, jobs, and recreation for millions of Americans. Congress must adequately fund the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative so we can continue efforts to protect the safety and security of our water,” said Rep. Slaughter.

“GLRI is working. We are talking about drinking water for 40 million people, and in light of what we’ve seen happen in Toledo and Flint, now is the time to make sure this successful program is fully funded, not cut by 17%,” said Rep. Joyce.

In a letter to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Appropriations panel with jurisdiction over environmental programs, the lawmakers are calling for $300 million in 2017 for the GLRI to continue this successful initiative. This amount exceeds the $250 million requested by the Obama Administration in February. In its budget request, the Administration called for a 17 percent reduction from the current $300 million funding level.

The GLRI is a seven-year-old effort to protect, restore and maintain the Great Lakes ecosystem. The inter-agency program provides funding to address vital environmental issues in the Great Lakes, such as cleaning up contaminated sediments, reducing polluted runoff, mitigating habitat degradation and loss, and addressing invasive species such as the Asian carp. The program has invested $2.2 billion in Great Lakes restoration over the last seven years. You can learn more about GLRI projects here.

A copy of the letter is included below and online here:

Dear Chairman Calvert and Ranking Member McCollum:

We are writing to respectfully request that you provide $300 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) in the Fiscal Year 2017 Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations bill. 

The Great Lakes are the largest system of fresh surface water in the world and a unique natural resource. The Lakes provide drinking water for nearly 40 million people, and are also an economic driver that supports jobs, commerce, agriculture, transportation, and tourism. 

More than a century of environmental damage has taken a significant toll on the Great Lakes, which the GLRI is helping to correct. Since the initiative was launched in 2010, GLRI funds have been used to support over 2900 restoration projects to improve water quality, protect and restore native habitat, clean up environmentally-impaired Areas of Concern, fight invasive species, and prevent beach closings.

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is showing real and measurable results, but there is still a great deal of work to do. For example, during its first six years, the GLRI has prioritized the cleanup of Great Lakes Areas of Concern (AOCs) resulting in three U.S. AOCs being delisted (Presque Isle, Deer Lake, White Lake) and restoration work being completed at four more (Sheboygan, Ashtabula, Waukegan and St. Clair).  Notwithstanding this significant progress, there are still 24 U.S. AOCs that require significant attention.

We urge you to continue this vital investment in the economic and environmental health of the Great Lakes. The $300 million we are requesting for this program is equal to the funding provided in the FY 2016 Consolidated Appropriations Act and also is in line with the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Act authorization legislation being considered in both the House and Senate. 

Thank you for your consideration of this important matter.