Great Lakes

Senator Portman continues to be a leader in the bipartisan effort to protect our Great Lakes and the environment. Whether it is promoting energy efficiency legislation, protecting our national parks, or improving the health of Lake Erie and Great Lakes, Portman continues to deliver results for Ohio.

Portman, who serves as co-chair of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force, has a lengthy record of accomplishments in protecting Lake Erie. This Congress, Portman has led the effort in the Senate to reauthorize and fully fund the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI), a results-driven program to address the most serious issues that threaten the ecological and economic well-being of the Great Lakes basin, including invasive species, pollution, and toxic contamination. By fighting to keep the lake clean, protect the lake from dangerous invasive species and harmful algal blooms, strengthen fish and wildlife restoration efforts, ensure that Ohioans have safe drinking water, and much more, Portman has demonstrated his commitment to continue improving the health of Lake Erie and support the tourism, fishing, and recreation that surrounds it.

Following news in 2017 that the administration proposed to eliminate funding for the GLRI, Portman fought for and secured GLRI funding. In February 2018, the administration once again proposed to cut funding for GLRI. Portman, once again, fought for and secured full funding for GLRI.

Several Portman-led initiatives were included in the 2016 Water Infrastructure Improvement for the Nation (WIIN) Act. This includes reauthorizing GLRI at $300 million through FY 2021, preventing the Army Corps from dumping dredged material into Lake Erie without Ohio EPA’s consent, strengthening fish and wildlife conservation efforts by reauthorizing the Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration, and improving water infrastructure to protect our drinking water.

President Trump signed into law the America’s Water Infrastructure Act, which includes two Portman bills to streamline permitting for hydropower projects and to create more jobs for local communities across the country and permanently authorize a cost-sharing program to allow expedited review of permit applications with the Army Corps of Engineers for some infrastructure projects in October 2018. This bill also included Portman’s provision to include a Great Lakes coastal resiliency study to coordinate a strategy across the Great Lakes states to help protect the Great Lakes’ 5,200-mile coastline. 

Portman’s bipartisan Harmful Algal Blooms and Hypoxia Research and Control Amendments Act passed the Senate in September 2017. The legislation would help protect fresh water bodies such as Lake Erie by reauthorizing the Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Act (HABHRCA), which was first enacted in 1998. For almost two decades, the HABHRCA program has served as the federal government’s research and response toolkit for harmful algal blooms. The measure passed the House in December 2018 and was signed into law by President Trump in December 2018.

In March 2017, Portman introduced the Water Infrastructure Flexibility Act, which passed the Senate on October 5, 2017. This bipartisan legislation would provide local communities with increased flexibility when complying with Clean Water Act requirements for updates to water infrastructure projects. The bill would also give communities more autonomy as they prioritize and plan for wastewater and storm water investments. The House passed it in December and the president signed it into law on December 21, 2018.

Portman introduced the Great Lakes Fishery Research Authorization (GLFRA) Act to give the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) the legislative authority to support the $7 billion Great Lakes sport and commercial fishery industry.

Summary
Senator Portman continues to be a leader in the bipartisan effort to protect our Great Lakes and the environment.