Shared from the 2018-05-19 Sandusky Register eEdition

Congress protecting the Great Lakes program

Picture

Register photo/ERIN McLAUGHLIN

Waves crest at Nickel Plate Beach in Huron.

SANDUSKY

Congress is moving to protect the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, a program President Donald Trump wanted to virtually wipe out.

The program provides money for the cleanup and restoration of Lake Erie and other Great Lakes. Environmental groups have fought for years, so far successfully, to keep funding for the program at $300 million a year.

The Trump administration sought to cut 90 percent of the funding for the program.

The House Appropriations Committee voted a few days ago to keep funding for the program at $300 million, according to a Twitter post from U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Toledo.

Kaptur wrote support for the funding level was bipartisan.

“The Great Lakes are in trouble and these funds help right their course,” Kaptur wrote.

Kaptur is “very optimistic” the full House will approve the committee’s action, said a spokesman, Joshua Stewart.

Meanwhile, the Senate may actually increase funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman announced a few days ago America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018, released by the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, raises the reauthorization for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative from $300 million in FY 2018 to $330 million in FY 2019, $360 million in FY 2020, and $390 million in FY 2021. Portman said he supported the increase.

Portman said the Water Infrastructure Act also has other provisions he supported, including:

n Requiring the Army Corps of Engineers to complete its Chief’s Report for the Brandon Road Study by February 2019. That’s the agency’s report on how it will keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes.

n Authorizing the Corps of Engineers to conduct a Great Lakes coastal resiliency study, focusing on how to protect the 5,200 miles of coastlines in the Great Lakes.

n Including the Water Infrastructure Flexibility Act, co-authored with Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, which provides flexibility to communities dealing with wastewater and stormwater projects, and also promotes the use of green infrastructure.

n Hiking spending for the Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration Act, from the current $6 million to $6.6 million in FY 2019, $7.2 million in FY 2020, and $7.8 million for FY 2021.

Reach reporter Tom Jackson at jackson@sanduskyregister.com and follow him on Twitter@jacksontom.

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