House spending bill funds Great Lakes cleanup program

Melissa Nann Burke
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington — House appropriators on Tuesday released their spending bill for environmental programs that fully funds the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative with $300 million for 2018.

The Trump administration had proposed eliminating the program, which funds the clean-up of degraded shorelines, fights against invasive species and aims to detect and prevent toxic algae blooms.

Rep. John Moolenaar, R-Midland, had urged his colleagues on the Appropriations Committee to include the GLRI funding in the spending bill.

“Working with private organizations and our state’s leading research universities, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative does vital work across Michigan to protect the Great Lakes and the streams, rivers and lakes that run into them,” Moolenaar said in a statement.

“This important priority for our state is funded in today’s legislation and I want to thank my colleagues on the Appropriations Committee for joining me in supporting the Great Lakes.”

Rep. Marcy Kaptur, an Ohio Democrat and member of the Appropriations panel, also commended the inclusion of the GLRI funding for the 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,” said Kaptur, who co-chairs 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.”

Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Zeeland, said while the appropriations process is continuing, the legislation is “a critical first step.”

“The health and vitality of the Great Lakes are instrumental to sustaining economic growth in Michigan and across the entire Great Lakes region,” said Huizenga, who also co-chairs the House Great Lakes Task Force. “By fully funding the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative at $300 million, the House of Representatives continues to make the preservation and health of the Great Lakes a priority.”

The restoration initiative has wide, bipartisan support in Michigan and other Great Lakes states, but the Trump administration had said state and local groups should be responsible for managing clean-up and restoration of the freshwater lakes.

At a hearing last month, Moolenaar pressed Mick Mulvaney, director of the White House budget office, about the proposal to eliminate funding for the GLRI program, noting that the Great Lakes are part of an international border.

“You’ve given me something that I’ve not considered ... in that there is an international component, which may make it more federal than I thought it was before we chatted,” Mulvaney responded.

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