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Great Lakes legislation clears U.S. Senate committee

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(The Center Square) – The federal government is closer to spending $500 million a year to extend a nearly 15-year effort to stop contamination throughout the Great Lakes.

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Act of 2024 unanimously passed through the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Work after being pushed by Sens. J.D. Vance, R-Ohio, and Debbie Stabenow, D-Michigan, both members of the Great Lakes Task Force.

“The Great Lakes are an invaluable asset to the people of Ohio – I’m proud to partner with Senator Stabenow on legislation that will continue to protect them for generations to come,” Vance, who co-chairs the Senate Great Lakes Task Force, said in a statement. “The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative delivers the tools we need to fight invasive species, algal blooms, pollution, and other threats to the ecosystem. This is a commonsense, bipartisan effort that I encourage all of my colleagues to support.”

If eventually approved by the Senate and House and signed by President Joe Biden, the act would extend the GLRI for another five years through 2031 and increase funding from $475 million in 2026 to $500 million from 2027 through 2031.

The GLRI began in 2010 and provides money to 16 federal organizations to target what it believes are the biggest threats to the Great Lakes ecosystem.

It has helped 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, Vance said.

The long-term goals include:

Fish safe to eatWater safe for recreationSafe source of drinking waterAll Areas of Concern delistedHarmful/nuisance algal blooms eliminatedNo new self-sustaining invasive speciesExisting invasive species controlledNative habitat protected and restored to sustain native species