Reps. Dingell, Slaughter, Levin and LaTourette urge $300 million for GLRI in 2013

A bipartisan group of Great Lakes advocates in Congress is taking steps to maintain funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative in fiscal 2013.

Four members of Congress who serve on the Great Lakes Task Force — Rep. John Dingell, D-MI; Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-NY; Rep. Sander Levin, D-MI; and Rep. Steven LaTourette, R-Ohio — sent a letter urging appropriators in the House of Representatives to maintain $300 million in funding for the GLRI in fiscal 2013.

“The GLRI is the largest investment in the Great Lakes in two decades and works to protect, restore, and maintain the Great Lakes ecosystem,” the members of Congress said in their letter to colleagues. “We urge you to support this sensible and productive investment in the economic and environmental health of the eight-state Great Lakes region.”

The letter has attracted 12 addidition House members, including Rep. Gwen Moore, D-WI, Rep. Robert Dold, R-IL, Jerrold Nadler, D-NY, Dale Kildee, D-MI, Steve Israel, D-NY, Reid Ribble, R-WI, Brian Higgins, D-NY, Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, Hansen Clarke, D-MI, John Conyers, D-MI, Gary Peters, D-MI, and Charles Rangel, D-NY.

The deadline for members to sign on to the letter—addressed to the chairman and ranking member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies—is March 14.

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is one of the few federal programs that enjoy bipartisan support. It is an unprecedented effort to clean up toxic hot spots, reduce polluted runoff, restore fish and wildlife habitat and prevent Asian carp and other invasive species from invading the lakes.

Congress and President Obama provided $1 billion for the GLRI during the first three years of the program. Funding for the GLRI was reduced from $475 million in its first year to $300 million in each of the past two years.

In their letter to House appropriators, representatives LaTourette, Levin, Slaughter and Dingell said the Great Lakes are “a unique and invaluable national treasure that produce immeasurable benefits for the region and nation overall.”

The lakes provide drinking water for 30 million Americans, support 1.5 million jobs and are the backbone of one of the world’s largest regional economies. Studies have shown that every $1 investment in Great Lakes restoration produces $2 of economic activity.

“Restoring the Great Lakes is a critical component of our nation’s strategy to grow our economy while promoting environmental responsibility,” the representatives said in the letter.

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