Senators pushing to increase Great Lakes cleanup funding | Michigan Radio
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Senators pushing to increase Great Lakes cleanup funding

Aug 26, 2019

Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge (file photo)
Credit steve carmody / Michigan Radio

U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters are pushing an expansion of a program designed to protect the Great Lakes.

The current Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is set to expire in 2021.

Stabenow says her bill would reauthorize the initiative for an additional five years.   The bill would continue the program through 2026 and gradually increase its annual appropriation from the current $300 million to $475 million.

The Trump administration has repeatedly tried to slash funding for the Great Lakes program.

But Stabenow believes the reauthorization bill will not face opposition from the president.

“This will be part of a larger budget bill,” says Stabenow, “And so, I don’t anticipate that they will do that.”

Michigan environmental groups support a proposal to reauthorize a program helping restore the Great Lakes. 

Rich Bowman is with the Nature Conservancy. He says the funding questions have caused some problems.

“We’ve had some cases where things probably haven’t happened on the timeline that we’d like them to have, but they always eventually happened,” says Bowman.

The program focuses on some of the Great Lakes' most longstanding environmental problems, including industrial toxic pollution, invasive species, runoff that causes algae blooms and wildlife habitat loss.

In Michigan, it has provided a combined $762 million for 880 projects, including restoring native fish populations in the Detroit River and removing 200 tons (181 metric tons) of marine debris from Belle Isle in Detroit.