Great Lakes Commission urges Congress to fully fund Great Lakes Restoration Initiative in FY2019

In a letter to the U.S. House and Senate Appropriations Committees, the Great Lakes Commission (GLC) called for continued funding of $300 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) in FY2019. The GLC urged appropriators to fully fund the GLRI, which is cleaning up the region’s most toxic sites, protecting drinking water for 48 million people by working with farmers to prevent polluted runoff and preventing the introduction of Asian carp and other harmful invasive species. The GLRI was cut by 90 percent in the president’s budget proposal, despite U.S. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt declaring in a recent report to Congress that “the GLRI is protecting public health in the Great Lakes more than any other coordinated interagency effort in U.S. history.”

“The GLRI is a highly successful program that enjoys strong, bipartisan support in Congress, among our region’s governors, business and industry, conservation organizations, tribes and local communities,” said GLC Chair John Linc Stine in the letter. “This drastic reduction would severely hamper our ongoing regional efforts, slow the progress we are making and undermine past investments.”

As just one example of the ongoing funding demand, the letter notes the EPA needs more than $80 million in FY2019 to implement 16 toxic sediment cleanup projects in six states. The projects are expected to leverage more than $60 million in cost-share from nonfederal partners. The president’s budget request would fund only a fraction of this important work and forfeit millions in nonfederal contributions.

The GLC emphasized that “with nearly one-third of U.S. and Canadian economic activity centered in the Great Lakes region and 95 percent of our nation’s fresh surface water, bolstering this invaluable resource is a wise strategy that benefits our entire nation.”

GLRI efforts have been underway since 2010, funded annually in the president’s budget and with broad bipartisan support from Congress, which has authorized $300 million annually for the program. More than 3,950 projects have been implemented under the GLRI since 2010. Full implementation of a Great Lakes restoration strategy is also projected to generate $50 billion in long-term economic benefits for the region.

To view the letter, click here.

Maritime Editorial