05.01.18

Peters, Stabenow Lead Bipartisan Call for Full Funding for Great Lakes Restoration Initiative in Next Year’s Spending Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (D-MI), member of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force, and U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Co-Chair of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force, led a bipartisan group of Senators in calling for full funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to be included in the fiscal year 2019 federal funding bill. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which has provided more than $600 million in funding to Michigan, is critical to cleaning up the Great Lakes, beaches, and waterways and fighting Asian carp. More than 700,000 Michigan jobs, or one in five in the state, are tied to water.    

“We are requesting full funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) at $300 million,” wrote the Senators.  “As you are aware, the President’s FY2019 budget request cut funding for the GLRI by 90% after proposing to eliminate funding for the program in the FY2018 budget request. We are concerned that these proposed cuts will reverse the progress that has been made to protect and improve the Great Lakes, the world’s largest freshwater body, which supplies drinking water to millions of people and contributes billions of dollars to the economy each year. We appreciate your past support of the GLRI and look forward to working with you to ensure that the program remains fully funded.”

In addition to Stabenow and Peters, U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), co-chair of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force, and Vice-Chair Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), along with members of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Tina Smith (D-MN), and Bob Casey (D-PA) sent their request to the Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Chairman Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Ranking Member Tom Udall (D-NM).

Full text of the letter can be found below and here.

 

Dear Chairman Murkowski and Ranking Member Udall:

As the Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies considers FY2019 appropriations requests, we are requesting full funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) at $300 million. As you are aware, the President’s FY2019 budget request cut funding for the GLRI by 90% after proposing to eliminate funding for the program in the FY2018 budget request. We are concerned that these proposed cuts will reverse the progress that has been made to protect and improve the Great Lakes, the world’s largest freshwater body, which supplies drinking water to millions of people and contributes billions of dollars to the economy each year.

In December 2016, Congress reauthorized GLRI as part of the Waster Infrastructure Improvements for the Nations Act (P.L. 114-322) for five years at $300 million. With your help, Congress has consistently fully funded GLRI since its inception in 2010. Most recently, H.R. 1625, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018 (P.L. 115-141), fully funded GLRI despite the President’s budget request to eliminate funding for the program.

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is the largest investment in the Great Lakes’ health, ecosystem, and water quality. Since its inception in 2010, $1.6 billion has been used to fund over 3,000 projects to combat the greatest threats to the Great Lakes, including invasive species, harmful algal blooms and loss of fish and wildlife habitats. The program has leveraged more than $475 million in nonfederal dollars from a wide range of partners, including nonprofit organizations, states, communities, educational institutions, and private companies. In targeting Areas of Concern, the program has successfully addressed problems that directly impact the public health and safety including beach closings, restrictions on fish and wildlife consumption, dredging restrictions, and problems with drinking water taste, odor and consumption. The Great Lakes provide drinking water for 40 million people, contribute $10 billion in tourism each year, and support hundreds of thousands of jobs across the region.

We appreciate your past support of the GLRI and look forward to working with you to ensure that the program remains fully funded. Thank you for your consideration of our request.