Joyce Presses EPA Administrator on Funding to Protect the Great Lakes

Apr 02, 2019

Today, during a hearing held by the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies, Congressman Dave Joyce (OH-14) questioned Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler on the Agency’s commitment to fully funding the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) at $300 million.

The GLRI is an effective, bipartisan program that cleans up the most polluted Great Lakes sites, addresses threats of Asian carp and other invasive species, combats Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs), restores habitats for valuable fish and wildlife, creates jobs and paves the way for economic development in waterfront communities.

“I have never been shy about my support for the Great Lakes,” said Dave. “They are an invaluable natural resource and an economic powerhouse, and it is of the utmost importance to protect and preserve them for future generations. That’s why I am a tireless advocate for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. I’m proud to have successfully fought for full funding for this program every year since the people of Ohio’s Fourteenth District sent me to Washington to represent them, and I don’t plan on that changing this year.”

Specifically, Dave asked Mr. Wheeler about the Administration’s desired funding level for the GLRI as the President’s declaration of full support for the program last week contradicted the Administration’s budget request that cut the program’s funding by 90 percent. Mr. Wheeler answered saying, “I love the Great Lakes and completely agree with President Trump last week when he announced we’ll fully fund the Great Lakes initiative…We’re working to see how we can continue the progress of cleaning up the Great Lakes.”

The GLRI has produced undeniable results for the Buckeye State and the Great Lakes community as a whole. Since 2015, as a result of GLRI funded projects, the EPA and its partners have worked collaboratively to prevent over one million pounds of phosphorus from leaving farms and entering the Great Lakes, reducing the frequency of HABs.

“Controlling phosphorus levels is critical to our ability to prevent HABs,” said Dave. “with the EPA and its partners preventing over 300,000 pounds of phosphorus from entering the Great Lakes each year, we not only improve the water quality of the Lakes but we also support its $7 billion fishing industry.”

Additionally, since 2010, a total of 70 Beneficial Use Impairments (BUIs) at 24 Areas of Concern in the Great Lakes States have been removed due to GLRI funded projects. This is seven times the total number of BUIs removed in the preceding 22 years, including two BUIs in fiscal year 2018 in Northeast Ohio, at the Cuyahoga and Ashtabula rivers.

Dave, who authored the language formally authorizing the GLRI at $300 million annually for the first time in 2016, has long been a fierce advocate of protecting the Great Lakes. Just last month, Dave voted to fully fund the GLRI at $300 million for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2019. In December, Dave led a bipartisan letter urging the Trump Administration to fully fund programs like GLRI that address harmful algal blooms in his Fiscal Year 2020 budget request. Previously, Dave was able to prevent President Obama’s suggested reduction of $50 million for the GLRI in Fiscal Year 2017 and was similarly successful in securing the full $300 million for the program when the Trump Administration zeroed out its funding in Fiscal Year 2018.

Click here to view the footage of Dave’s opening statement.

Click here to view the footage of the exchange between Dave and Administrator Wheeler.

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