In a major victory for Great Lakes and clean water advocates, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Act of 2019 was signed into law yesterday by President Trump, paving the way for President-elect Biden and Congress to continue funding the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative for five years, and increasing the program’s annual funding from $300 million to $475 million by 2026. Enactment of the law has been a top priority for the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition.

Laura Rubin, director of the Healing Our Waters – Great Lakes Coalition, said:

“This is a huge victory for the more than 30 million people who rely on the Great Lakes for their drinking water, health, jobs, recreation, and quality of life. Over the past decade, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has been producing results for communities across the region, but serious threats remain. This bill recognizes the work we have left to do, and allows President-elect Biden and Congress to boost funding to tackle these threats before they get worse and more expensive to solve.

“We thank the Great Lakes congressional delegation for their relentless determination to pass this bill and to ensure that the Great Lakes and clean water remain national priorities. We applaud U.S. Reps. David Joyce (R-Ohio) and Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) and U.S. Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) for their leadership, as well as the many Democrats and Republicans who worked in a spirit of bi-partisanship to get this legislation across the finish line.

“We look forward to working with elected officials to ensure that this successful program continues to meet ecological objectives while confronting environmental injustices that afflict the most vulnerable communities. We have the opportunity to lift up and help all communities – especially those that have borne the brunt of pollution and environmental harm.”

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative invests in local projects in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin to clean up toxic pollution, fight invasive species, reduce runoff from cities and farms, and restore fish and wildlife habitat. The initiative has supported 5,449 projects that are helping to better the environment and economy.