Tell Congress to Stop Slashing Great Lakes Restoration
Celia Haven works on Great Lakes Restoration and Climate Adaptation at NWF’s Great Lakes Regional Center.
Efforts to restore the Great Lakes could suffer a huge blow in the next week as the Interior-Environmental Protection Agency funding bill moves to a vote by the U.S. House of Representatives. The recently-released bill contains numerous cuts to clean water programs across the country, including huge drops in funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI).
The cuts to Great Lakes restoration in the current House funding bill are bad for Great Lakes wildlife, bad for our water, bad for our economy, and bad for us.
They undermine the efforts of countless organizations across the region that are working tirelessly to reverse years of toxic contamination and habitat destruction.
So what does this mean for those who use the Great Lakes – not just for drinking water but for swimming, fishing, and boating? It means more beach closures, more fish consumption advisories, more shoreline choked by invasive species. It means that Great Lakes water quality might continue to decrease instead of improve, despite the fact that over 30 million people depend on the Lakes for their drinking water.
The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is the first step in improving conditions in the Great Lakes. Since 2010 nearly 600 projects have begun throughout the region, each playing a part in restoring the Great Lakes. The decreases Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding by $50 million below current funding levels and a full $225 million below fiscal year 2010.
This comes even after the first two years of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative were met with an overwhelming number of project applications – showing that more funding is needed than is currently available. These applications are for restoration projects that are on-the-ground and shovel-ready, too, meaning the federal investment goes straight to work.
The Interior-EPA Funding Bill has already passed through the House Appropriations Committee, and includes massive cuts to other Great Waters programs, as well as a massive reduction in the Clean Water State Revolving Fund – a national program that helps communities to better manage stormwater and prevent sewage overflows.
These cuts are an unacceptable blow to our restoration efforts and our environment.