Month: August 2018

Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Can Start Planning

This before and after picture depicts how The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding gets put into action. The image shows habitat remediation on the Cotterelville Township shoreline of the St. Clair River. The St. Claire river was labeled an Area of Concern under the 1987 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. $21 million from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has been used to reduce environmental impairments on the St. Claire River from 10 down to 4. (Image Credit: USEPA)

President Donald Trump had threatened to completely slash funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) in 2018 and again proposed cutting the GLRI funding for the Fiscal Year 2019 (FY2019) budget by 90%. On April 27, 2018, twelve United States senators sent a letter of request to the Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies during consideration for FY2019 appropriation requests.  The letter asked for full GLRI funding in 2019.

It looks like this request has paid off and the GLRI is in the clear with their usual funding of $300 million for 2019. The Interior and Environment Appropriations Bill for 2019, which allotted $300 million to the GLRI, was passed in the U.S. house of representatives with a vote of 212 to 199 and will now go to the U.S. Senate for approval. The GLRI can now look to planning restoration initiatives for 2019.

The GLRI is moving into the last stages of their Action Plan II, which was put in place in 2014 and will be completed in 2019. They are now developing Action Plan III—set to take place from 2020 to 2024. There is one more informal public engagement session planned for Action Plan III that is set to take place August 7, 2018 in Chicago, IL. You can also provide input for Action Plan III online. The GLRI expects Action Plan III to be ready for formal public comment by fall 2018.

In the meantime, the GLRI is still working to select projects to fund for 2018. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has recommended that $4.78 million of the 2018 GLRI budget be put towards four new restoration projects and two existing regional partnerships.

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