Empowering Communities, Advocating Solutions

Great News for the Great Lakes!


In what could fairly be called a tumultuous federal budget process, we are pleased to report that despite the ongoing dysfunction in Washington, D.C., there comes great news for the Great Lakes.  The House of Representatives and U.S. Senate on Monday night (January 13, 2014) released a $1.012 trillion compromise on a 2014 spending bill that would restore funding for the successful Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) to $300 million!  That is a huge victory considering that a House committee had earlier purposed just $60 million for the program, which would have stifled the tremendous progress to protect and restore the lakes that has occurred in recent years.  While Congress approved $300 million for the GLRI last year, it was brought down to $285 million after cuts due to the sequester.

Well over a billion dollars has been invested in the GLRI in recent years, including $50+ million for 100+ restoration projects in New York State.  The GLRI has been putting people to work while cleaning up toxic hotspots in the lakes, fighting invasive species such as the Asian carp, restoring critical habitat for fish and wildlife, and so much more.  The GLRI has stood out as an extremely successful program, and support for the program transcends political parties. Its no wonder why, as in New York alone, the lakes provide drinking water to four million residents, support a $2.27 billion recreational fishery and $600 million recreational boating industry, and provide four million jobs.  Yesterday’s announcement is huge victory for the environment, economy, and quality of life in our region!

In other Great Lakes news, last week the Army Corp of Engineers released its long awaited, congressionally mandated report that should serve as the first step toward building a physical barrier to separate the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins, the foundation of any lasting strategy to stop the movement of Asian carp and other invasive species from one watershed to the other.  While the report unfortunately does not provide a recommendation, it does include separating the basins as an option.  Independent studies have shown that separating the Great Lakes-Mississippi River system is both feasible and affordable.  CCE remains committed to ensuring that Congress take action to implement the only effective strategy to keep Asian carp from decimating the Great Lakes: permanent separation of the basins. You can read the report and find out how to submit comments here.

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