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LATEST NEWS

July 24th 2018

Washington Watch: House Interior Bill Funds Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, Frustrates Administration

The Federal Government plays an important role in working with the states to restore and protect the Great Lakes. Photo credit: David Keith

The U.S. House finished debate on its Interior and Environment funding bill for the next fiscal year on Thursday.  The bill contains funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, water infrastructure and other restoration programs at the following levels:

  • Great Lakes Restoration Initiative: $300 million (same as FY18; $270 million higher than President’s request)
  • Clean Water State Revolving Fund: $1.543 billion ($150 million more than President’s request)
  • Drinking Water State Revolving Fund: $1.013 billion ($150 million more than President’s request)
  • Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study: $200,000 (same as President’s request)
  • Electric Barrier: $18.920 million (same as President’s request)

 

The House bill rejects much of the President’s budget request, opting instead to maintain funding for important Great Lakes programs. The Trump Administration complained to the U.S. House of Representatives that the chamber’s Interior-EPA funding bill supports investments in Great Lakes restoration efforts—and those of other water habitat programs in areas such as the Chesapeake Bay—and rejects cuts proposed by the White House.

 

Todd Ambs, director of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition, said:

 

“What Great Lake is completely contained within one state? As any school child from the upper Midwest knows, the answer of course is none. I continue to be perplexed by this Administration’s continued insistence that funding for critical work to protect and restore the most significant freshwater resource on the planet should only be handled by ‘state and local entities,’ especially when the lakes are binational and cross many state and Tribal jurisdictional lines. States and local entities are and must remain integral partners in this work but they will never have the resources, nor the legal authority, to address the myriad regional, federal and international issues that impact the Great Lakes.

Fortunately, there continues to be broad support in Congress from Republicans and Democrats who understand that Great Lakes restoration programs are producing results for the environment and economy—and that these programs are essential for the more than 30 million people who depend on the lakes for their drinking water, jobs, and way of life. We will continue to work with bipartisan leaders in Congress to support the funding and policy solutions needed to address the serious threats to the Great Lakes and communities across the region, so that we can keep federal restoration efforts on track. Cutting funding now will only make projects harder and more expensive.”

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July 18th 2018

Coalition to EPA: Strong Action Plan Essential to Maintain Progress on Great Lakes Restoration

ANN ARBOR, MICH. (July 18, 2018)—The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition is urging the U.S. EPA to continue to engage the public in an effort to put forward a strong, focused action plan to protect and restore the Great Lakes. The agency is holding a public engagement session tonight in Milwaukee to solicit input to help guide the crafting of the EPA’s Great Lakes Action Plan 3, which will set restoration and funding priorities from 2020-2024.

 

“A strong action plan, that truly reflects the public’s input, is essential to maintain progress on Great Lakes restoration,” said Todd Ambs, campaign director for the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. “Federal restoration efforts are producing results, but serious threats remain—underscoring the need for a strong, focused plan and full funding from the White House and Congress to see the plan through.”

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June 19th 2018

Celebrating the 10-Year Anniversary of a Public Compact for the Great Lakes

by Todd Ambs

Ten years ago, then-Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle signed state legislation to implement the Great Lakes-Saint Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact. Seven other Great Lakes states, two Canadian provinces, the U.S. Congress, and then-President George W. Bush all joined with Wisconsin and by the end of 2008 the Great Lakes Compact was a federal law.

The Compact (as it is commonly called), at its most fundamental level, is about how we sustainably manage the most significant surface freshwater resource on the planet—fresh water that more than 42 million people depend on for their drinking water in the United States and Canada. The glaciers had carved out our sense of place with a shovel so deep that you can see the Great Lakes from space, and yet we lacked a system to sustainably manage and protect that resource. More >

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June 1st 2018

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to Host Public Engagement Sessions On Great Lakes Restoration

Your input can help improve the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and how the projects, like the one above, are chosen. Photo courtesy of Ducks Unlimited.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced a series of public engagement meetings to be held throughout the summer across the region. These meetings are focused around gathering public feedback in developing the next iteration of the Great Lakes Regional Initiative Action Plan – Action Plan III. The Action Plan broadly guides how Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding is prioritized and spent. You can read the current Action Plan here.

We encourage anyone who has worked in any way with the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to participate in these meetings – whether as a recipient of a grant, partner on a project, or advocate for funding.

The first meeting is in two weeks, June 13th in Toledo, Ohio, followed by Rochester, N.Y. on June 21. See the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s press release here.

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May 23rd 2018

Washington Update: Farm Bill Stalled and Water Resources Funding Advances

Thanks to past Farm Bill funding, replanted riverbanks absorb pollution before it enters our waterways. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Water Resources Development Act Moves Forward

Today the House Transportation Committee will meet to mark up the latest version of the Water Resources Development Act. The text of the bill, H.R. 8 was released last Friday and can be read here. The bill, much smaller than the Senate bill released earlier in May, is focused only on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It makes small changes to a number of Corps programs.  The House bill does not include any Great Lakes-specific provisions, nor does it include wastewater, drinking water, or stormwater programs, like its Senate counterpart. More information about the bill can be found here on the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee’s website.

Farm Bill Stalls

On Friday the U.S. House narrowly voted down the latest version of the Farm Bill, 198-213. The Farm Bill is important in the Great Lakes region because it provides substantial conservation funding that help keep the ecosystem healthy, including the Regional Conservation Partnership Program. The bill failed for reasons unrelated to the content of the bill–members of the Freedom Caucus withheld their support until a separate vote was held on immigration–and so this version of Farm Bill is expected to come up for a vote again.

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  • 2018 Great Lakes Restoration Conference

    Registration is now open for our 2018 Great Lakes Restoration Conference, which will be in Detroit, Mich, October 17 and 18! Looking for information about the conference, including sessions, speakers, scholarships, and how to register? Learn more here.

  • Impact of President Trump’s Budget

    Cuts to key Great Lakes programs as proposed by President Trump will undermine the progress we've been making to restore the lakes. We will look to our congressional champions to restore funding. Learn more about what's at stake for the Great Lakes under the proposed budget. Click here.  

  • Washington Update: March 19, 2018

    Congress is still working on passing a budget for fiscal year 2018. But the budget process for fiscal year 2019 has now begun with the release of President Trump's proposed budget. Read the latest here.

  • Our Latest Success Story

    Check out our latest success story: Restoring the natural curves and riverbank of the Pike River in Wisconsin has reduced flooding and erosion, while increasing fish and wildlife habitat. Read more here. Click here for a full list of our success stories.

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