The budget debate in Washington has Great Lakes advocates calling foul and lobbying for a turnabout in a proposed funding cut to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.
The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative - or GLRI - is a collaboration of the eight states bordering the lakes, including New York and Pennsylvania, that works to restore and protect the basin’s ecosystem. A coalition briefing on restoration efforts and the EPA revised plan was changed as the Initiative’s federal funding was swept up in Monday’s budget debate in Washington. Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition Campaign Director Todd Ambs says the House Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Subcommittee released proposed drastic cuts to the Great Lakes program.
GLRI works with a broad diversity of partners including federal, state and local agencies, conservation and environmental groups, tribes, business, academic and non-governmental organizations on projects such as wetlands restoration, invasive species prevention, beach access improvement, sewage and toxic sediment cleanup. There have been about 1,650 projects funded totaling nearly 950-million dollars in the eight Great Lakes states. Alliance for the Great Lakes CEO and President Joel Brammeier says the House cuts disproportionately single out those programs.
The Coalition’s Todd Ambs says a cut was expected, but not of this magnitude.
Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition Policy Director Chad Lord hopes the cuts are merely part of a federal budget debate and will not be approved.
The full House Appropriations committee will review the bill next week. Full House consideration is not expected until after the August recess. The Senate has yet to act on similar legislation.