WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Co-Chairs of the House Great Lakes Task Force David Joyce (R-OH), Representatives Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Debbie Dingell (D-MI), and Bill Huizenga (R-MI) released the following statement applauding the House passage of the bipartisan Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Act of 2019, introduced by Reps. Kaptur and Joyce to reauthorize and expand funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI).
The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Act of 2019 will reauthorize the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which is set to expire at the end of Fiscal Year 2021, for another five years. The bill also increases the current authorization level from $300 million to $375 million in Fiscal Year 2022 and increases funding by $25 million per year until it reaches $475 million in Fiscal Year 2026. The bipartisan legislation has 27 Democratic and 22 Republican cosponsors in the House. The legislation now goes to the Senate, where the legislation has been introduced on a bipartisan basis by Senate Great Lakes Task Force Co-Chairs U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Rob Portman (R-OH), and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI).
“As someone who grew up on the shores of Lake Erie, I have never been shy about my commitment to protecting and restoring the Great Lakes,” said Rep. Joyce. “I was honored to introduce this bill alongside my colleagues on the Great Lakes Task Force and thank all those who worked across party lines to ensure its passage this evening so that we can protect the invaluable natural resource and economic powerhouse that is the Great Lakes system. This legislation is a great example of the progress we can make when we work together to address the issues facing our communities.”
“The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative meets an enormous unmet need for our region and the millions of people who depend on the Great Lakes for their drinking water, work, and leisure,” said Rep. Kaptur. “The Great Lakes are among our planet’s greatest gifts. They provide our nation with 90% of our fresh surface water, are home to thousands of plants and animals, and generate over $60 billion in wages every year. Put simply, our Great Lakes cannot be replaced – they must be protected and deserve robust federal investment. The GLRI has brought to bear resources, expertise, and stakeholders from across the local, state, and federal governments to advance restoration activities. Along Lake Erie, in my district, the GLRI has helped focus resources to protect at-risk ecosystems and combat Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs), which have at times rendered the drinking water of Toledo unsafe to drink or bathe. The reauthorization and increased investment provided for in today’s legislation offers an opportunity to get the GLRI back to the funding levels originally envisioned when the program was funded in FY 2010. I thank my colleagues in the House and Senate, especially the Co-Chairs of the Great Lakes Task Force, and Congressman David Joyce for his steadfast support and willingness to strengthen the GLRI together on a bipartisan basis.”
“The Great Lakes are not only a natural resource, but a way of life that support communities and jobs throughout the region,” said Rep. Dingell. “Protecting the Great Lakes is critical. When the GLRI receives the funding it needs, we can properly take care of our region’s most treasured natural resources. This allows us to create good paying jobs, enjoy outdoor actives on the lakes, and protects the health and beauty the lakes have to offer.”
“The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has a proven track record of success in West Michigan and throughout the Great Lakes region,” said Rep. Huizenga. “A recent study by the University of Michigan found that every $1 invested from the GLRI has generated more than $3 in additional long-term economic activity. We have seen the positive impact of the GLRI in Muskegon where recent activity to clean up legacy pollution is estimated to have increased property values by nearly $12 million and generated $1 million in new recreational spending in the community. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is critical to our efforts to protect drinking water, prevent the spread of invasive species, and accelerate the clean-up of areas of concern. The GLRI is a tremendous bipartisan example of an effective and efficient use of taxpayer dollars that protects, preserves, and strengthens the Great Lakes today and for future generations.”
Since its inception in 2010, the GLRI has significantly contributed to the protection and preservation of the Great Lakes, which provide more than 1.5 million jobs, supply 90% of our nation’s fresh surface water, support over 3,500 species of plants and animals, and generate $62 billion in wages every year. Specifically, the program has helped triple the successful cleanup and delisting of Areas of Concern, restore 50,000 acres of coastal wetlands across the region, reduce phosphorus runoff and the threat of harmful algal blooms, control invasive species, and double farmland acres under nutrient conservation. All of this progress has resulted in economic returns of more than 3-to-1 across the region.