In Cleveland, Portman Highlights the Importance of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative
On Friday, Senator Portman joined Port of Cleveland leadership to host a roundtable discussion on the importance of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) to Lake Erie and the surrounding communities. GLRI is a results driven program to address the most serious issues that threaten the ecological and economic well-being of the Great Lakes basin, and funding it is one of many ways that Portman has worked to protect our Great Lakes. Portman has led efforts to fully fund the GLRI and helped restore funding to its authorized level of $300 million in FY 2016 when the Obama administration attempted to cut funding for the initiative by $50 million.
Portman’s visit comes after the new administration’s request to eliminate funding for the program. Portman strongly opposes this cut because GLRI has brought more than $164 million in funding to Ohio cities like Cleveland to help clean up pollution in the Lake, stop invasive species like Asian carp, and reduce the likelihood of harmful algal blooms.
Excerpts of, and links to, stories from around the state highlighting Portman’s visit on Friday can be found below:
For the first time in decades, yellow perch fingerlings have returned to the once reed-choked Mentor Marsh, an ecological benefit of the federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.
That "fish success story" recounted by Dave Kriska of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History was one of many delivered to U.S. Sen. Rob Portman during a discussion with about 50 of Lake Erie's leading conservation advocates Friday.
Portman, Republican of Ohio, said the success stories he heard from the group will help him make a strong case on behalf of full funding for the Great Lakes initiative when Congress addresses the issue later this year.
The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is the cornerstone of a network of programs designed to protect and restore the largest system of fresh water in the world, by combating water pollution, especially toxic algal blooms, to prevent and control invasive species and to restore habitat to protect native fish and wildlife.
Portman cited studies that found the federal initiative funds are responsible for as much as $80 billion in economic benefits to the Great Lakes states.
Sen. Rob Portman discussed specific projects funded by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative in northeast Ohio Friday as a part of an effort to combat the president’s plan to cut funding to the lakes.
The initiative started in 2010, and receives $300 million annually. It has spent nearly $1.8 billion on projects across the Great Lakes region. The project primarily focuses on doing four things: preventing and controlling invasive species, reducing nutrient runoff that contributes to harmful/nuisance algal blooms, restoring habitat to protect native species, and cleaning up Great Lakes Areas of Concern.
Portman said cutting the relatively small amount from the federal budget would be “penny wise and pound foolish.”
Capitol Hill came to Cleveland Friday, as Senator Rob Portman met with some of the region’s top water officials.
Many of them are worried about the future of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.
The federal program invests $300 million dollars annually to keep the Great Lakes clean. Taxpayers, in turn, spend less than a $1 per year to keep it going.
The roundtable Senator Portman attended Friday included everyone from the Port of Cleveland to the Sewer District, to the Museum of Natural History.