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LATEST NEWS

March 26th 2018

Groups to Congress: Maintain Great Lakes Funding

Restoration in the Great Lakes improves water quality and provides habitat for fish and wildlife. Photo: Colleen Brown

ANN ARBOR, MICH. (March 26, 2018) – Days after the passage of the fiscal year 2018 budget, which contained strong support for Great Lakes restoration programs in the budget for fiscal year 2019, 185 organizations urged the U.S. Congress to continue their support for restoration efforts. In letters to the U.S. House and Senate, organizations from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York urged public officials to maintain support for core Great Lakes programs that help protect the drinking water for more than 30 million people.

 

“The problems we face will only get worse and the price we pay will be much higher if the federal partnership with the region is scaled back,” the groups stated in the letters.

 

“The Great Lakes congressional delegation has delivered time and time again, and our message is straight forward: Keep it up,” said Todd Ambs, campaign director for the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. “We’ve made progress, but there’s more work to do. Strong support from members of congress in the next budget can keep us on the right track. Now is not the time to cut funding, since this restoration work will only get harder and more expensive the longer we wait.”

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March 23rd 2018

Coalition: Budget a Victory for People, Great Lakes

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

ANN ARBOR, MICH. (March 23, 2018)—The U.S. House and Senate have passed the fiscal year 2018 budget, which now heads to the White House to be signed by President Trump. The budget contains strong funding for core Great Lakes restoration priorities.

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

 

“The budget is a victory for the 30 million people who depend on the Great Lakes for their drinking water, jobs, and way of life. We thank Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. Congress who have stepped up to make Great Lakes restoration and protection a national priority. This budget keeps federal Great Lakes restoration efforts on track.

 

“Strong funding for federal agencies, like the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Park Service, provide a solid foundation for the successful implementation of Great Lakes restoration efforts in communities across the region. Despite the progress we’re seeing, serious threats remain.  We look forward to working with bi-partisan leaders in the U.S. House and Senate to continue this tremendous state-federal partnership that is producing results for the environment and economy.”

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March 21st 2018

Senator Gillibrand to Introduce Bill on Water Infrastructure Grant Funding

Clean drinking water benefits all of us. Photo from iStock Photo.

Senator Kristin Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) plans to introduce a bill to help communities around the Great Lakes region, and the country, fix their crumbling water infrastructure. The pipes and buildings that make up our water infrastructure system are aging. In the Great Lakes region, and around the country, funding for water infrastructure is inadequate to keep up with needs. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that in the Great Lakes region alone more than $179 billion is needed over 20 years to repair and replace our wastewater and drinking water infrastructure. Currently, the Federal Government helps communities pay for expensive, but urgently needed water infrastructure projects using the Clean Water or Drinking Water State Revolving Funds. These funds provide low-interest loans for projects, but for certain communities even these low-interest loans are unaffordable.

Senator Gillibrand plans to introduce a bill that would provide grants to communities–not just loans–to address costly wastewater and drinking water infrastructure projects. We will be watching as more details become available, as affordability is key to infrastructure investments. An article in the New York Auburnpub.com shares more details about the bill here.

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March 19th 2018

Washington Update: Fiscal Year 2018 Discussions Continue, Farm Bill Slowed

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

House Republican leaders had wanted to pass a final FY2018 funding bill last Friday but acknowledged that they’re behind schedule, ditching the plans to release the $1.3 trillion spending bill last week.  The delay sets up a crazy floor schedule this week in both the House and Senate as both chambers try to enact federal funding by the March 23 deadline.

Instead of Friday, March 16, a spending package is now likely to be unveiled early next week. Despite the delay, lawmakers and aides say they’re refusing to consider a sixth short-term funding patch in case Congress were to blow past the March 23 deadline.

What’s the holdup? There still remains a long list:

— Nearly $1 billion in funding for the Gateway project in New York City, which President Donald Trump has threatened to veto.
— Deportation relief for DREAMers and funding for Trump’s proposed border wall
— The “Mexico City” policy, aka a prohibition on U.S. funding for international groups that provide abortion services, and funding for Planned Parenthood.
— Obamacare stabilization funds, also known as cost-sharing subsidies or CSRs.
— A tax provision that would allow churches and nonprofits to participate in political campaigns.

Rumors are that these contentious pieces of the bill have been dropped.  Other controversial riders could also be left out of the final bill. However, in their place could be new riders not previously seen impacting public lands in Alaska and Minnesota (PolyMet land exchange), etc.

Farm Bill

The Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee said yesterday that the 2018 Farm Bill won’t be marked up on March 20 as originally planned.  The Committee is still trying to work out an agreement on controversial changes to the food stamp program. Ranking member Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) has said that Democrats could not support the Farm Bill in its current form because it imposes stricter work requirements on some 8 million recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The delay means that the next chance for a markup won’t come until after Congress returns from a two-week recess on April 10.

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March 9th 2018

Action Alert: Increasing Funding for Water Infrastructure

Clean drinking water benefits all of us. Urge your Member of Congress to support State Revolving Funds by signing on to this letter. Photo from iStock Photo.

There is another letter circulating in the house for congressional sign ons – this letter supports an increase in funding for the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving funds to fund investments in clean and safe water infrastructure. The letter is to the Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies and specifically asks to double the amount for the two state revolving funds from the fiscal year 2017 amounts to a total of $2.8 billion for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund and $1.8 billion for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund in fiscal year 2019, which is in line with the Coalition ask for this year; we are hoping to push the Great Lakes Members to join this letter. The turnaround on this letter is very short – the deadline is this Monday, March 12, so please take some time this week to encourage your Representatives to sign on to this important letter.

 

You may contact your Member of Congress via the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121.

Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.) and Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) originated the dear colleague letter, and the following members have already signed on: Reps. Rick Nolan (D-Minn.), Gwen Moore (D-Wis.), Daniel W. Lipinski (D-Ill.), Bobby Rush (D-Ill.), Andre Carson (D-Ind.), Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), Scott Peters (D-Calif.), Julia Brownley (D-Calif.), Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), Mark DeSaulnier (D-Calif.), Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.), Jerry McNerney (D-Calif.), John Yarmuth (D-Ky.), Niki Tsongas (D-Mass.), Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (D-Northern Mariana Islands), Colleen Hanabusa (D-Hawaii), Peter Welch (D-Vt.),  Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.),  Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), and Al Green (D-Texas)

 

Offices should contact Jennifer Wood in Congressman Katko’s office at Jennifer.wood@mail.house.gov or Clayton Cox in Congresswoman Slaughter’s office at Clayton.cox@mail.house.gov to sign on or with any questions. The dear colleague letter is attached.

 

The deadline to sign on is Monday, March 12 at the close of business.

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  • 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.  

  • 2018 Great Lakes Restoration Conference

    Our 2018 Great Lakes Restoration Conference will be in Detroit, Mich, October 17 and 18. We will begin seeking proposals for conference presentations in April. As more information becomes available, it will be posted here and shared on our listserv.

  • 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.

  • FIND HEALTHY LAKES ON