Levin, reps ask House to fully fund Great Lakes cleanup

Melissa Nann Burke
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington — Most of Michigan's delegation signed a bipartisan letter Thursday led by Rep. Sandy Levin, D-Royal Oak, asking House appropriators to fully fund the federal Great Lakes cleanup program at the recent year’s level of $300 million.

President Donald Trump has proposed in next year’s budget eliminating the program, called the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, as part of deep cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency.

“More than a century of environmental damage has taken a significant toll on the Great Lakes, which the GLRI is helping to correct,” Levin wrote, joined by Rep. David Joyce, R-Ohio, and Louise Slaughter, D-New York, and 60 other lawmakers.

“Since the initiative was launched in 2010, GLRI funds have been used to support over 3,000 restoration projects to improve water quality, protect and restore native habitat, clean up environmentally-impaired Areas of Concern, fight invasive species, and prevent beach closings.”

They added that, while the program has shown measurable results, “there is still a great deal of work to do.”

All of Michigan’s House members signed onto the letter except U.S. Reps. Justin Amash, R-Cascade Township, and John Moolenaar, R-Midland.

Moolenaar, who sits on the House Appropriations Committee, has pledged to work across the aisle to defend funding for the GLRI, as he did when President Barack Obama proposed reducing funding for the program.

“I hope the new administration will recognize the strong bipartisan support for this important program and sign legislation that protects funding for the GLRI,” he wrote in a recent op-ed.

Michigan U.S. Sens. Debbie Stabenow of Lansing and Gary Peters of Bloomfield Township signed a similar letter last week with 35 other Democratic senators, urging appropriators in that chamber to also fully fund the Great Lakes cleanup and other EPA projects.

“Unfortunately, instead of maintaining environmental protections, President Trump’s FY2018 budget blueprint would simply eviscerate the EPA’s core functions and adversely impact state budgets that rely on EPA grants for environmental remediation,” they wrote.

“This is not the vision of the EPA that Americans support.”

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