Strong funding for Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, though bill contains harmful provisions that undermine Clean Water Act, other environmental protections.

ANN ARBOR, MICH. – The U.S. House of Representatives today approved its 2017 Interior-EPA funding bill, which contains funding for several core Great Lakes programs. The spending bill also contains several provisions that roll back environmental protections.

Commenting on the bill, Todd Ambs, campaign director of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition, said:

“Millions of people who depend on the Great Lakes for their drinking water, jobs, and way of life will benefit from these investments. While the bill fully funds the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, it unfortunately underfunds wastewater infrastructure improvements that are essential to our public health and economy.  The bill also contains several very damaging provisions that weaken Clean Water Act and other environmental protections. We need both strong funding and effective policies to ensure that we protect our Great Lakes, drinking water, environment and economy.

“While we’re making progress, the Great Lakes and our communities still face serious threats. We urge the Senate to match the House’s GLRI recommendation, improve funding for water infrastructure and reject all anti-environmental provisions. We need both chambers to support Great Lakes programs that are producing results and reject attempts to weaken protections that undermine restoration efforts.”

The U.S. House spending bill contains:

  • $300 million to restore and protect the Great Lakes through the federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which matches last year’s funding levels.
  • $1.07 billion to help communities provide safe, clean drinking water through the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, which is $186 million more than last year.
  • $1 billion to help communities update sewage infrastructure through the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, which is nearly $400 million less than last year.

The accompanying Interior-EPA funding bill in the U.S. Senate has passed the appropriations committee but has not been voted on by the full chamber. Once that bill passes, the House and Senate will need to reconcile the two bills.

The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition consists of more than 135 environmental, conservation, outdoor recreation organizations, zoos, aquariums and museums representing millions of people, whose common goal is to restore and protect the Great Lakes.