Portman and Kirk Introduce Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Act to Protect and Restore Great Lakes
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) today announced the introduction of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Act of 2015, legislation that authorizes the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI), a results-driven program to address some of the most serious issues that threaten the ecological and economic wellbeing of the entire Great Lakes basin. Portman serves as vice-chair of the Great Lakes Task Force.
Last year, the GLRI received $300 million in the Omnibus Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2015 to combat some of the biggest challenges the Lakes are facing today, such as the threat of invasive species, pollution and toxic contamination. Among its many achievements, the environmental restoration work conducted through this program led to the delisting of three formerly contaminated sites along the Great Lakes, known as Areas of Concerns. Yet, despite this progress, 27 toxic Areas of Concern remain across the Great Lakes Basin. The Kirk-Portman bill authorizes the GLRI at $300 million annually from fiscal year 2016-fiscal year 2020 to ensure that continued federal resources are made available to accelerate the restoration and protection of the Great Lakes.
“GLRI has been an incredibly successful tool for Lake Erie protection and restoration efforts, and I’m pleased to introduce this legislation,” Portman stated. “We must protect our Great Lakes not only for their environmental well-being, but also for the economy of our region.”
“Last year I celebrated the contamination cleanup of Waukegan Harbor and the removal of more than 150,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment, which was made possible because of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative," Kirk said. "As the source of clean drinking water for more than 30 million Americans, it is crucial that we keep the Lakes our nation's most precious natural resource, free from toxins, sewage and the continued threat of invasive species in order to keep the Lakes the crown jewel of the Midwest.”
“The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is making tremendous progress in revitalizing cities and cleaning up the Great Lakes. This legislation will further strengthen this unprecedented federal-state partnership,” said Great Lakes Commission Chairman Kelly Burch, executive director of Oil and Gas Operations with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. “There’s more work ahead of us, so it’s important that Congress provide a predictable and durable foundation to support our continued restoration efforts.”
A House companion, H.R. 223, was introduced in January 2015 and currently has 34 cosponsors.