ANN ARBOR, MICH. – The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee today approved its 2017 Interior-EPA funding bill, which contains funding levels for several core Great Lakes programs. The spending bill also contains several provisions that roll back environmental protections. The action by the Senate comes a day after the U.S. House Appropriations Committee passed its spending bill.
Commenting on the bill, Todd Ambs, campaign director of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition, said:
“Millions of people who depend on the Great Lakes for their drinking water, jobs, and way of life will benefit from these investments. Unfortunately the bill also contains several very counterproductive provisions that weaken Clean Water Act protections. We need both strong funding and effective policies to ensure that we protect our Great Lakes, drinking water, environment and economy. While we’re making progress, the Great Lakes and our communities still face serious threats. We urge the Senate to support successful Great Lakes programs that are producing results and reject attempts to weaken protections that undermine restoration efforts.”
The Senate spending bill contains:
$300 million to restore and protect the Great Lakes through the federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. That’s $50 million above President Obama’s budget request and the same as current fiscal year 2016 funding. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative invests in programs to clean up toxic pollution to protect the health of people and wildlife; reduce run-off from cities and farms to prevent harmful algal bloom; fight invasive species to protect native species; and restore wildlife habitat and wetlands to protect outdoor recreation opportunities.
$1 billion to help communities provide safe, clean drinking water through the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, which provides low-interest loans to communities to upgrade drinking water infrastructure. That’s 16 percent more than current fiscal year 2016 levels and slightly less than President Obama’s $1.021 billion request.
$1.35 to help communities update sewage infrastructure through the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, which provides low-interest loans to communities to protect water quality and to keep beaches open. That’s 3 percent less than last year and more than President Obama’s $979 million request.
The U.S. House spending bill contains $300 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, $1 billion for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, and $1.07 for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund.