The U.S. House passed today the bipartisan Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Act of 2019, which reauthorizes funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) for five years and increase it by nearly 60 percent during that time.
“In Michigan, we are the stewards of the Great Lakes, because they are the backbone of our economy and our way of life,” said U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Holly. “We may not always think about it when we’re enjoying our beautiful lakes, but protecting and maintaining our Great Lakes takes investment and commitment — and the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has been instrumental over the years in keeping our lakes clean and safe in order to power our state and our economy. Today’s vote renews that funding for another six years, and I’m thrilled to see it continues to receive strong, bipartisan support.”
The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Act of 2019 will reauthorize the GLRI, which is set to expire at the end of Fiscal Year 2021, through 2026. The bill also increases the current authorization level from $300 million to $375 million in Fiscal Year 2022 and by $25 million per year after that 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. 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 percent 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 de-listing 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.