Last night, the US Senate voted in favor of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative making it a reality and giving us the chance to get annual payments toward restoring and protecting the Lakes. Just days before the 77 to 21 vote on the Interior Bill that would fund up to $400 million for the GLRI, the US President penned a letter to the US Senate asking for the full $475 million.
The President’s budget and the US House version authorizes up to $475 million for 2010. The Senate version only funds $400 million but it has been implied that the Great Lakes will get the full funding after the conference. Still, authorizations are not appropriations so we need to keep the pressure on the US House and Senate appropriators to fully fund the Initiative. There are several letters making their way around Capitol Hill right now urging full support.
The only Great Lakes Senator to vote Nay on the Interior bill was Indiana Democrat Evan Bayh, everyone else voted in favor of the bill that authorizes funds for the GLRI.
Regardless of the outcome, our work can commence with an unprecedented investment. It is on our shoulders to put this money to good use and show Congress and the President a great return on this down payment so that they will continue supporting restoration in the years to come. It took us a long time to put our Great Lakes in such a state of ill health and it will take an equal amount of time and investment to make them well again. At least the Great Lakes are now a part of the nation’s agenda. Lets keep it that way!