03.14.19

Peters Floor Remarks Opposing the President’s Budget Proposal to Drastically Cut the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) spoke on the Senate floor today in opposition of the Trump Administration’s budget proposal, which includes a 90% decrease in funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has provided more than $600 million in funding to Michigan communities to help clean-up and restore the Great Lakes, beaches, and waterways.

“The Great Lakes are a vital natural resource not only for my home state of Michigan, but for the entire nation. In addition to providing drinking water for nearly 40 million people the Great Lakes serve as an economic engine for our country,” said Senator Peters. “Let me be clear, slashing GLRI funding would have an immediate and catastrophic impact on the future of the Great Lakes and – for both – the nearly 10 million Michiganders that I represent and our entire country as a whole… Fully funding the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative should never be a partisan issue. It is simply the right thing to do, and together we can protect the Great Lakes for this generation and future generations to come.”

Click here for video of his remarks and below is the text as prepared for delivery: 

“Mr. President, I rise today to speak in support of the need to vigorously protect the Great Lakes.

“The Great Lakes are a vital natural resource not only for my home state of Michigan, but for the entire nation. In addition to providing drinking water for nearly 40 million people the Great Lakes serve as an economic engine for our country. This fresh water system is associated with adding nearly $6 trillion to the US GDP while supporting millions of jobs. It accounts for more than 50 percent of all U.S./Canadian border trade and facilitates the shipping of over 200 million tons of cargo every year. But ask any Michigander what the Great Lakes mean to them and they will tell you they are a great deal more than simply a source of commerce.

“The Great Lakes literally define our State – they not only define our borders but who we are among the states – we are in fact – the Great Lakes state. We spend our summers on or near the lakes, and in the process, form the family memories that we hold for a lifetime. It’s no exaggeration to say that – for Michiganders – the Great Lakes are part of who we are. It’s in our DNA.

“Over the years, Democrats and Republicans alike have understood the importance of maintaining the vitality of the Great Lakes. That’s why in 2004, President George W. Bush, signed an executive order to promote a Great Lakes regional collaboration.

“Then in 2010, President Obama built on his predecessor’s leadership. In his very first budget request, President Obama called for funding for what would be later known as the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. The GLRI today remains a bipartisan success story because it provides a platform for federal agencies and states to come together to address the biggest threats to the Lakes.

“Mr. President, let me give you a few examples of the positive impact that GLRI has had in my home state of Michigan.

“In Deer Lake, near Ishpeming in the Upper Peninsula, GLRI funds were used to successfully eliminate mercury runoff that had contaminated local wildlife. Over just a few years, these funds were used to restore the natural habitat and – as a result – Deer Lake was no longer considered a federal area of concern.

“Thanks to the support of the GLRI, significant improvements were made to prevent runoff at the Gloede Drain in Clinton Township in Macomb County - reducing flooding and soil erosion – in an area many Michiganders call home.

“In Detroit, thirty steel mills, oil refineries, chemical manufacturers, and other plants discharged pollutants into the Detroit River for decades. However, with the implementation of $89 million worth of GLRI waterway cleanup projects, water quality has improved and Detroit now has a thriving and vibrant downtown River Walk that has become an economic engine for small businesses.

“There’s no question the GLRI is a proven success and has been vital to Michigan’s environment and economy. Despite this success, President Trump once again is willing to risk the health, safety and vitality of one the world’s largest fresh water systems by proposing a 90 percent cut – yes – 90 percent - to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

“Unfortunately this is not the first time. Since taking office, President Trump has tried to eliminate funding to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, each and every year. And each and every time, Congress has united in a bipartisan way and ensured this critical program is funded. 

“Let me be clear, slashing GLRI funding would have an immediate and catastrophic impact on the future of the Great Lakes and – for both – the nearly 10 million Michiganders that I represent and our entire country as a whole.

“Mr. President, I again ask my Senate colleagues for their support. The Great Lakes are not just a Michigan priority. They are not just a regional priority. They are a national priority. Fully funding the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative should never be a partisan issue. It is simply the right thing to do, and together we can protect the Great Lakes for this generation and future generations to come.”

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