Great Lakes receives major funding in approved House bill

Dec 19, 2019

A wide-ranging clean-up of the Great Lakes would receive a major funding boost under the spending bill approved by the House of Representatives Tuesday.

The measure includes $320 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

Bill co-sponsors Mike Quigley of Illinois and Fred Upton of Michigan said the GLFRA Act was introduced to provide the U.S. Geological Survey Great Lakes Science Center with dedicated funding "to conduct critical monitoring, scientific assessments, and research of fisheries between the United States and Canada that lie within the Great Lakes Basin."

House Great Lakes Task Force Committee Member Brian Higgins of Buffalo broke down the spending bill:

  • "Authorizes $17.5 million annually through 2029 toward the study of habitats, invasive species and deepwater ecosystems;
  • Establishes a Living Shoreline Grant Program through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, providing $50 million toward matching grants each year;
  • Authorizes $87 million for the Sea Grant program, which provides research, education and conservation programs for Great Lakes and coastal communities;
  • Adds $6 million each year through FY2025 for competitive grants supporting research on invasive species, harmful algal blooms and other threats;
  • Provides $12 million in annual funding for ports, marinas and other working waterfronts;
  • Reestablishes a data sharing program between federal and non-federal partners on details specific to the Great Lakes and oceans."

The spending bill contains more concise language for long-term environmental problems such as toxic pollution, loss of wetlands, invasive species and harmful algae blooms.

“The Great Lakes are one of this country’s most overlooked and underappreciated natural assets, representing the largest source of fresh water in the world," Higgins said. "Climate change is impacting the health of our lakes and will continue to impact the health of our communities if we don’t act with urgency.”

Quigley said over 35 million people depend on the Great Lakes for everything from drinking water and recreation, to fish and wildlife activities and commercial navigation.

"The passage of this legislation means that the Great Lakes Science Center will be able to protect this precious resource for those millions for years to come," he said.

The spending bill was sent to the Senate for a vote expected later this week.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.