People who love the Great Lakes or work to improve the quality of the Great Lakes aren’t exactly popping champagne corks yet.
But there is a new sense of hope in the Great Lakes Region over future funding to preserve the largest surface freshwater system on earth now that a House Committee has released a bill that would fund the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative in 2018.
The Great Lakes Commission’s Executive Director Tim Eder tells Great Lakes Now, “This is the first step in the congressional decision-making process. This is the first marker that’s been laid down and it’s good. But there’s a lot of work to do yet.”
The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) helps to fund the fight against pollution and invasive species, and helps restore habitat.
Eder says, “We’re seeing communities return to the waterfront and capitalize on their access to the water, making full use of the water for their economic development. We’re cleaning up and restoring areas of concern that have been degraded for decades. We’re making real progress in many areas and the program has been a tremendous success.”
Todd Ambs with the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition released this statement to Great Lakes Now : “We owe a debt of gratitude to the Great Lakes Congressional delegation for fighting to restore funding so that we can continue to implement projects that are good for our environment and economy.”
But Ambs says, “On the other hand, the budget sends mixed signals, as it continues to cut core programs as well as agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency charged with implementing Great Lakes restoration. That is the wrong tact to take, because serious threats remain and our work is not done if we want to fully restore the lakes and protect our drinking water, public health, jobs, and way of life.”
The bill calls for $300 million to support the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement programs when the fiscal year begins October 1st.
It also calls for $7.5 billion in funding for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
President Trump’s proposed 2018 budget eliminated funding for programs including The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the Sea Grant college program.
The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative budget still must be voted on by the full committee and passed by the full chamber before being considered in the Senate.
The GLC’s Tim Eder says, “Congress will be under pressure to make compromises and meet budgetary restrictions. It’s not a done deal. People should continue to communicate their support for the Great Lakes to congress and keep the pressure on.”
Greatlakesnow.org will keep you posted on the latest developments involving the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.