February 07, 2024

Young, Colleagues Introduce Legislation to Extend Great Lakes Protections

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), along with U.S. Representatives David Joyce (R-OH-14), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH-9), Bill Huizenga (R-MI-14), and Debbie Dingell (D-MI-6), introduced the bicameral, bipartisan Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Act of 2024, which extends the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) for another five years through 2031. The GLRI is the most significant investment ever made to restore and protect the Great Lakes.

“The Great Lakes are an important part of Indiana’s ecosystem and economy,” said Senator Young. “The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is a results-driven program that addresses the most serious issues threatening the wellbeing of the Great Lakes basin, including toxic substances, pollution, debris, and invasive species. Reauthorizing this program will continue to protect and preserve these lakes for generations to come.”

“The creation of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is one of the most important actions of my legislative career.  Since I authored the program in 2010, it has been a proven success story,” said Senator Stabenow. “This bill will ensure the stability and future of the program as we address new emerging threats to our Great Lakes and waters.”

“The Great Lakes provide more than 1.5 million jobs, supply 90 percent of our nation’s fresh surface water, and generate $62 billion in wages every year,” said Congressman Joyce.“The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative supports efforts that confront direct threats facing the lakes like harmful algal blooms, water pollution, invasive species, and coastal erosion. I am proud to be working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to reintroduce this critical legislation to protect and preserve the national treasure that is the Great Lakes ecosystem.”

“As a co-chair of the Congressional Great Lakes Task Force and a member of the House Committee on Appropriations, funding the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) is among my top priorities each year,” said Congresswoman Kaptur. “The GLRI provides instrumental funding to meet an enormous unmet need for our region, including the millions of people who depend on the Great Lakes for their drinking water, livelihoods, and leisure. In 2020, the GLRI contributed $3.1 Trillion to our economy, 25.8 million jobs, and $1.3 Trillion in wages. Analysis shows that every GLRI dollar spent produces $3.35 in economic activity, which demonstrates a clear return on investment. Robust funding that benefits communities throughout our region is just common sense.”

“As Co-Chair of the House Great Lakes Task Force, I have worked to build a bipartisan coalition in Congress to make the Great Lakes a national priority,” said Congressman Huizenga. “The Great Lakes serve as a vital source of economic activity, recreation, and drinking water for millions of Americans. For us in Michigan, the Great Lakes are a way of life. Studies from Grand Valley State University and the University of Michigan demonstrate how the economic health of the Great Lakes is directly tied to their ecological health. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is the leading federal program designed to clean up legacy pollution, restore habitats, and combat invasive species across the basin. I will continue to lead efforts that prioritize the Great Lakes and work to protect, preserve, and strengthen these precious resources for future generations.”

“The Great Lakes are not only an important natural resource, but a way of life that supports communities and jobs across our region and country. Since it was established, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has been an environmental and economic success, and is fundamental to protecting, restoring, and maintaining the Great Lakes ecosystem and economy. We must ensure the GLRI receives strong, bipartisan support to continue this meaningful work,” said Congresswoman Dingell.

The GLRI has focused federal and nonfederal efforts to stop the spread of carp and other invasive species, restore coastline and habitats connecting our streams and rivers, clean up environmentally damaged Areas of Concern, and prevent future contamination. 

The Great Lakes and its watersheds continue to be stressed by contamination and threats to water quality, and are under increasing pressure from new invasive species, erosion, and habitat destruction. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Act of 2024 would increase annual funding levels from $475 million in 2026 to $500 million from 2027 through 2031 to help ensure that vital efforts to protect our water can continue and that new and emerging threats to our lakes and waterways are addressed.

In addition to Young and Stabenow, U.S. Senators J.D. Vance (R-Ohio), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), John Fetterman (D-Pa.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), and Bob Casey (D-Pa.). 

The legislation also shares broad support among Great Lakes advocates, including: Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition, Great Lakes Commission, Alliance for the Great Lakes, League of Conservation Voters, National Wildlife Federation, Sierra Club, National Parks Conservation Association, The Nature Conservancy, National Audubon Society, American Sportfishing Association, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Great Lakes Fishery Commission, American Great Lakes Ports Association, Environmental Law & Policy Center, Great Lakes Business Network, Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Michigan League of Conservation Voters, Clean Wisconsin, Save the Dunes, Ohio Environmental Council, Ducks Unlimited and Western Reserve Land Conservancy.