ANN ARBOR, MICH. (July 25, 2019) – A bipartisan group of senators and representatives have introduced legislation to significantly ramp up funding for the successful Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, drawing strong support from the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. Led by Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Reps. David Joyce (R-Ohio) and Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), the bipartisan, bicameral bill would increase the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative’s authorization incrementally from $300 million per year to $475 million per year over five years.
“This bill rewards a strong and successful program, while recognizing we have work left to do. We appreciate Senators Stabenow, Portman, and Baldwin and Representatives Joyce and Kaptur for introducing this important legislation that will help protect the drinking water and quality of life for more than 30 million people,” said Laura Rubin, director of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. “The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has been producing results around the region through habitat restoration and pollution clean-up, but serious threats remain. Toxic hotspots, harmful algal blooms, invasive species, and unsafe drinking water from emerging contaminates like PFAS pose risks to people, fish and wildlife. By increasing our investment in this successful program we can accelerate the progress we’ve seen over the last several years.”
Other members that have co-sponsored the legislation for Senate Bill 2295 include Sens.: Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), and Todd Young (R-Ind.). Co-sponsors for House Bill 4031 include Reps.: Pete Stauber (R-Minn.), Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), Gwen Moore (D-Wis.), Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), Ron Kind (D-Wis.), Mike Quigley (D-Ill.), Bobby Rush (D-Ill.), Sean Casten (D-Ill.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Brad Schneider (D-Ill.), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), Bill Foster (D-Ill.), Pete Visclosky (D-Ind.), Andre Carson (D-Ind.), Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.), Bill Huizenga (R-Mich.), Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), Dan Kildee (D-Mich.), Paul Mitchell (R-Mich.), Fred Upton (R-Mich.), Andy Levin (D-Mich.), Tim Walberg (R-Mich.), Brenda Lawrence (D-Mich.), John Moolenaar (R-Mich.), Jack Bergman (R-Mich.), Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), Anthony Gonzalez (D-Ohio), Steve Stivers (R-Ohio), Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio), Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio), Mike Turner (R-Ohio), Mike Kelly (R-Pa.), Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), Brian Higgins (D-N.Y.), Joseph Morelle (D-N.Y.), John Katko (R-N.Y.), Chris Collins (R-N.Y.), and Tom Reed (R-N.Y.).
The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has provided funding for 4,700 projects since 2010. These projects have cleaned up toxic hot spots in the region, supported farming practices that reduce polluted runoff on more than 700,000 acres of land, and removed dams and river barriers that have opened up more than 5,250 river miles resulting in fish swimming into stretches of river where they have been absent for decades. But there is more work left to do. Of the toxic hot spots identified in the region, more than half still need to be cleaned up. Wetland restoration to date only addresses about one-fifth of the estimated total wetland acres needed for recovery.