ANN ARBOR, MICH. (May 15, 2019) – This week the Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives indicated its support for key Great Lakes programs. The appropriation subcommittee proposed funding the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative at $305 million, which is $5 million above what Congress appropriated in the current fiscal year. The subcommittee also indicated support for the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds at $1.81 billion and $1.3 billion, respectively, which are increases from last year’s funding levels.
“We applaud Members of Congress—in particular the Great Lakes champions on the House Appropriations Committee—for standing up to support these important Great Lakes programs that are making a difference for the 30 million people who call this region home,” said Chad Lord, policy director, Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. “The President’s change of heart on the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative was good to see ahead of congressional debate about funding for next year. Yet, members of Congress hold the power of the purse and as in years past have maintained funding for key Great Lakes programs. We are making progress cleaning up contaminated sediment, removing invasive species, and reducing polluted runoff, but there’s more work to do. Our work is not done until everyone in the region can afford clean drinking water, has safe beaches to swim at, and has healthy fish to eat.”
Great Lakes members on the House Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Subcommittee include: Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), chair; Rep. David Joyce (R-Ohio), ranking member; Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.), and Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-Mich.). Other Great Lakes members on the House Appropriations Committee include: Reps. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), Pete Visclosky (D-Ind.), Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), and John Moolenaar (R-Mich.).
The release of the House budget bill comes as President Trump formally reversed course on major cuts to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative in his budget for next fiscal year. The Trump Administration is requesting $300 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, even though its proposed budget contains steep cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency. The administration has also proposed rolling back clean water protections.
“At this point, the number one thing that the Trump Administration can do to protect the Great Lakes and drinking water across the country is to withdraw its proposal to weaken clean water protections,” said Lord. “With so many communities and towns living with unsafe drinking water, we need more – not less – clean water protections.”
The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative provides resources for the eight-state region of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York to fight invasive species, reduce polluted runoff, address legacy toxic contaminants, and restore habitat. The Drinking Water and Clean Water State Revolving Funds help communities around the country pay for expensive but needed drinking water and wastewater infrastructure projects. The proposed levels for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund would be an increase of $116 million over FY19 funding levels and the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund would be an increase of $136 million over FY19 funding levels. In the Great Lakes region alone, more than $179 billion is needed over the next 20 years to repair and replace crumbling infrastructure.