House Republicans, Democrats Unite in Push to Restore Great Lakes Funding

In a strong show of bi-partisan support for federal Great Lakes restoration efforts, 51 Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives today sent a letter to key appropriators, urging them to fund the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative at $300 million. President Obama proposed cutting the initiative from $300 million to $250 million in his recently released budget.

Read the letter here.

U.S. Reps. David Joyce (R-OH), Sander Levin (D-MI), and Louise Slaughter (D-NY) spearheaded the letter, which was signed by 17 Republicans and 34 Democrats.

“The Great Lakes are one of our nation’s greatest treasures, so it’s good to see a record number of my colleagues are understanding how important it is that we fund GLRI,” said U.S. Rep. David Joyce (R-OH). “I’m glad the effort to preserve and protect our Great Lakes is clearly growing across state and party lines, and we aren’t going to take our foot off the gas.”

“The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is producing real, measurable results,” said U.S. Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI). “We need to build on the progress we are making by giving GLRI the resources it needs. Now is not the time to cut this vital program.”

“Tens of millions of Americans rely on the Great Lakes for commerce, drinking water, transportation, and recreation—it is critical that we keep these critical resources safe and clean,” said U.S. Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY), co-chair of the House Great Lakes Task Force. “The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative continues to make tremendous contributions to improving Lake Ontario for Rochester, which is why we need GLRI to be fully funded for the next fiscal year. Humans can only survive without fresh water for three days, and with twenty percent of all of the fresh surface water on Earth contained in the Great Lakes, we need to keep them clean, safe, and free of invasive species for future generations.”

“We commend U.S. Reps. Joyce, Levin and Slaughter—and the Republican and Democratic signatories of this letter—for their leadership and commitment to federal Great Lakes restoration efforts that are producing results in communities around the region,” said Todd Ambs, campaign director for the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. “This is arguably the strongest bi-partisan support ever and underscores how important the Great Lakes are to people who depend on them for their drinking water, jobs, and way of life. We look forward to working with U.S. House leaders to restore funding for successful Great Lakes programs that are good for our environment and economy.”

The letter, to Ken Calvert (R-CA) and Betty McCollum (D-MN), chairman and ranking member, respectfully, of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies, seeks to restore funding to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which has funded more than 2,000 projects over the past six years to restore fish and wildlife habitat, clean up toxic pollution, fight invasive species, and reduce runoff from cities and farms.

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is showing real, measureable results,” the letter states. “We urge you to continue with this investment in the economic and environmental health of the Great Lakes.”

Over the last six years, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has restored more than 115,000 acres of fish and wildlife habitat; opened up fish access to more than 3,400 miles of rivers; helped farmers—in combination with other programs—implement conservation programs on more than 1 million acres of rural working lands; and accelerated the cleanup of toxic hotspots by delisting three formerly contaminated sites—in the previous two decades before the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, only one site had been delisted.

Signatories to the letter include:

Illinois: Danny Davis (D), Robert Dold (R), Tammy Duckworth (D), Bill Foster (D), Luis Gutierrez (D), Dan Lipinski (D), Mike Quigley (D), Bobby Rush (D), Jan Schakowsky (D)

Indiana: Jackie Walorski (R), Andre Carson (D)

Michigan: Sander Levin (D), Dan Benishek (R), John Conyers (D), Debbie Dingell (D), Bill Huizenga (R), Dan Kildee (D), Brenda Lawrence (D), Candice Miller (R), John Moolenaar (R), Dave Trott (R)

Minnesota: Keith Ellison (D), Rick Nolan (D), Tim Walz (D)

New York: Louise Slaughter (D), Yvette Clarke (D), Chris Collins (R), Eliot Engel (D), Chris Gibson (R), Richard Hanna (R), Brian Higgins (D), Grace Meng (D), Jerrold Nadler (D), Charles Rangel (D), Paul Tonko (D), John Katko (R)

Ohio: David Joyce (R), Marcia Fudge (D), Bill Johnson (R), Marcy Kaptur (D), Jim Renacci (R), Tim Ryan (D)

Pennsylvania: Matt Cartwright (D), Mike Kelly (R)

Wisconsin: Sean Duffy (R), Ron Kind (D), Gwen Moore (D), Mark Pocan (D), Reid Ribble (R)

National: Shelia Jackson Lee (D-Texas), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-Washington, D.C.)

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