What is House Bill H.R. 223?
Launched in 2010, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative was started to protect and restore one of crown jewels of the U.S. and the "largest system of fresh surface water in the world
The initiative focuses on cleaning areas of concern in the lakes, controlling and preventing invasive species and harmful algal blooms, and restoring habitats.
H.R. 223 would designate that the Initiative prioritize projects with non-Federal partners that address:
- Toxic substances in parts of the Great Lakes;
- Protecting and restoring nearshore health while combatting pollution;
- Wetland restoration;
- Maintaining accountability and communication between parters in the Initiative.
The Initiative would be directed to work with Federal partners to pick the best combination of actions to restore the Great Lakes, while assessing the feasibility and efficiency of each proposal.
People who live in communities near the Great Lakes, or who live on resources from the Great Lakes, members of Congress who represent those states, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, people who run their various restoration programs, federal agencies that oversee the Great Lakes, and the Environmental Protection Agency.
Cost of House Bill H.R. 223
A CBO cost estimate is unavailable. However, H.R. 5764 would authorize a budget of $300,000,000 to carry out the project every year from 2015 to 2019.
In the past five years, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has invested more than $1.6 billion
for over 2,000 projects for communities affected by the Great lakes in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York.
In a letter urging Congress to fund the Initiative, members from both sides of the aisle wrote a letter stating:
"The Great Lakes are the world's largest system of fresh surface water, providing drinking water for nearly 40 million people. The Lakes are also an economic driver, supporting 1.5 million jobs and generating $62 billion in wages annually. The Great Lakes fishery alone is valued at $7 billion a year. The Lakes also support commerce, agriculture, transportation, and tourism. For all these reasons, we believe Great Lakes restoration must remain a priority."
On the other hand, critics like Todd Ambs
, campaign director for the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition see this bill as a step in the right direction, but not a full on solution:
“While funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is most welcome, we are disappointed in cuts to core programs that will severely inhibit the ability of cities to invest in infrastructure desperately needed to curtail sewer overflows throughout the region. Further, rolling back essential Clean Water Act protections undermines restoration efforts and undercuts a rulemaking process currently underway.”
Media: Bipartisan Letter to Congress (in support)
Healthy Lakes Healthy Lives
(Photo Credit: "Great Lakes from space crop labeled" by SeaWiFS Project, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, and ORBIMAGE. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons)