On Wednesday, the House Transportation and Infrastructure committee will review the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Act of 2015, H.R. 223. The bill would authorize the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative–a successful and popular program that works to restore and protect the Great Lakes. Historically, the initiative has not been authorized and funding is therefore contingent upon the President’s budget request and the action of Congress. This year, the initiative received a one-year authorization, but H.R. 223 would authorize the program through fiscal year 2020 at $300 million a year. The bill’s author is Rep. Dave Joyce (R-Ohio). There is a similar bill moving through the Senate, S. 1024.
Watch the hearing here, starting at 10 a.m. EST. Other issues besides the GLRI Act will be covered during the hearing.
Here’s how the Congressional Research Service summarized the bill:
Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Act of 2015
This bill amends the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (commonly known as the Clean Water Act) to authorize the Environmental Protection Agency’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative for FY2016-FY2020.
The Initiative must prioritize and carry out programs and projects for Great Lakes protection and restoration, including:
(1) the remediation of toxic substances and areas of concern;
(2) the prevention and control of invasive species and their impacts;
(3) the protection and restoration of near-shore health and the prevention and mitigation of nonpoint source pollution (water pollution that comes from many diffuse sources, such as pollution on the ground picked up by rain or snow); and
(4) habitat and wildlife protection and restoration.
Funding made available to implement the Initiative may not be used for any water infrastructure activity (other than a green infrastructure project that improves habitat and other ecosystem functions in the Great Lakes) for which funding is made available under the clean water or drinking water state revolving fund program.
Federal agencies must maintain the base level of funding for their Great Lakes activities without regard to funding under the Initiative and identify new activities to support the environmental goals of the Initiative.