Nolan Leads Bipartisan Appeal to President Obama to Fully Fund Great Lakes Restoration Project
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan and 45 other Democrats and Republicans today urged President Obama to include full funding of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) at the current $300 million level in the Administration’s Fiscal Year 2017 budget. The letter was delivered as Nolan and other members of the House Subcommittee on Water Resources & Development questioned a panel of federal officials, which included the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), on implementation of the GLRI in light of substantial annual funding cuts since the program was first launched in 2010.
A strong supporter of the GLRI since its inception, Nolan noted, “In Minnesota alone, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has funded more than one-hundred projects to identify and clean up pollution, combat invasive species and restore wild rice wetlands, protect fish, birds and wildlife.”
At the hearing, Nolan praised in particular the progress being made to clean up the St. Louis River in northeastern Minnesota. In August 2014, Nolan and his Republican colleague, U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy of Wisconsin joined EPA Region Five Director Dr. Susan Hedman in Duluth at a news conference to announce completion of the first step in restoring the St. Louis River. The GLRI is a driving force behind the project, which aims to return the river to its natural state by 2025.
Under questioning by Nolan during the hearing, Chris Korleski, Director of the EPA’s Great Lakes National Program Office, admitted that funding reductions have forced the agency to renegotiate cleanup and restoration plans with Minnesota and other Great Lakes states. Addressing members of the subcommittee, Nolan then noted, “I think we need to try and find some ways to authorize a greater expenditure here for this important project.”
In their letter to the President, Nolan and the other signers noted, “The Great Lakes are a unique national treasure and the largest system of fresh surface water in the world, providing drinking water for 40 million people. They are also an economic driver that supports jobs, commerce, agriculture, transportation and tourism.”
They also pointed out, “There is still a great deal of work to do. For example, during its first 6 years, the GLKRI has prioritized the cleanup of Great Lakes Areas of Concern. While significant progress has been made and a number of Areas of Concern have been delisted, there are still 28 Areas of Concern that require further attention.”
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