Lawmakers move to restore $300 million for Great Lakes

Jul 12, 2017

Congress has taken its first step to ensure that Great Lakes restoration continues in 2018 – contrary to President Trump's budget plan.

On Tuesday, the House Appropriations Committee released the 2018 Interior and Environment Appropriations bill, which includes full funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

July 19 update: Committee vote is good news for the Great Lakes.

That would maintain $300 million in annual spending for projects such as pollution removal and wetlands restoration. Trump's budget proposal had eliminated that money.

Several committee members represent Great Lakes States, including David Joyce (R-Ohio), Betty McCullum (D-Minn.), and Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio). 

In a statement, Kaptur applauded the bipartisan work to protect the Great Lakes.  “It is still beyond me why the President, whose political fortune is so tied to the Great Lakes states, would gut funding for such a valuable environmental and economic resource as the Great Lakes,” she said.  

“As Co-Chair of the House Great Lakes Task Force, I will keep the pressure up to ensure Congress provides the resources necessary to ensure the health and productivity of the Great Lakes.”

President Trump’s proposed 2018 budget eliminated funding for programs including the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the Sea Grant college program.

Read our series on the impact of Trump's budget cuts.

Environmental organizations praised the committee’s dedication to the Great Lakes.

Great Lakes Commission Executive Director Tim Eder told Great Lakes Now, “This is the first step in the congressional decision-making process. This is the first marker that’s been laid down and it’s good. But there’s a lot of work to do yet.”

Todd Ambs, campaign director for the the Healing our Waters–Great Lakes Coalition, expressed concern for the EPA budget.

“We owe a debt of gratitude to the Great Lakes Congressional delegation for fighting to restore funding so that we can continue to implement projects that are good for our environment and economy,” Ambs said in a statement.

“On the other hand, the budget sends mixed signals, as it continues to cut core programs as well as agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency charged with implementing Great Lakes restoration. That is the wrong tact to take, because serious threats remain and our work is not done if we want to fully restore the lakes and protect our drinking water, public health, jobs, and way of life.”

The bill will be considered in subcommittee today.