$300M for Great Lakes cleanup moves forward in Congress

Wisconsin State Farmer
U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A wide-ranging Great Lakes cleanup program would receive $300 million next year under a spending bill approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee. The committee released the Fiscal Year 2018 Interior and Environment funding bill on Nov, 20, which includes $300 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) that Senator Tammy Baldwin secured as a member of the committee.

“The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is critical for the health of our region, our communities, and our clean water resources. It helps us clean up polluted sites, restore water quality and combat invasive species,” said Senator Baldwin. “Preserving the Great Lakes is not just an environmental goal - it is an economic necessity, and I’m glad to see the Senate Appropriations Committee has taken this positive step to fully fund this important initiative.”

The measure cleared the committee this week and now goes to the full Senate.

Last month, Baldwin joined  a bipartisan group of her Senate colleagues calling on the Office of Management and Budget to include this critical funding in the legislation.

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative focuses on the region's most longstanding environmental problems, such as toxic pollution, farm and urban runoff, invasive species and declining wildlife habitat.

In May, Baldwin championed a bipartisan agreement to fully fund the GLRI in omnibus funding legislation. The GLRI is a critical program for the Great Lakes region that helps protect our clean water resources.

President Donald Trump's budget called for eliminating the program's funding. But lawmakers in both parties from the Great Lakes region fought to retain the $300 million it has received most years since 2010.

Senator Baldwin has championed the GLRI and protecting our Great Lakes throughout her time in the Senate. Last year, Senator Baldwin successfully fought to reauthorize the GLRI for five more years in bipartisan legislation signed into law by President Obama.

Todd Ambs of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition says he's happy about the funding, but worried that the bill cuts spending for the Environmental Protection Agency and other departments that administer the program.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.