Durbin: Congress Agrees To Fund Great Lakes Restoration Initiative At $300 Million

Funding included in Omnibus Appropriations bill agreement that now goes to the House and Senate for a vote

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] - U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today announced the inclusion of $300 million in funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) in the Omnibus Appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2015 will support ongoing efforts to protect the Great Lakes including: combating invasive species, particularly Asian Carp; reducing and removing pollution, waste run-off and toxic chemicals; and restoring wetlands and other lakefront assets.  The bill, which was filed in the House last night, must now be voted on by both the House and Senate and signed into law by President Obama. 

“In Illinois, we treasure Lake Michigan – from the drinking water it provides to millions of people, to the commerce and tourism it brings to the Chicago area,” said Durbin.  “The federal government, through programs like the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, invested millions of dollars to clean up decade’s worth of industrial pollution dumped into the harbor.  This summer I celebrated a moment that was decades in the making: the end of the Waukegan Harbor cleanup. Today’s bill will provide adequate funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to take on new projects and continue their work protecting the lakes for generations to come.”

Initially funded with a $475 million appropriation in Fiscal Year 2010, the GLRI received $300 million in both Fiscal Years 2011, 2012 and 2014.  Sequestration cut funding for the GLRI to $285 million in Fiscal Year 2013.  As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Durbin has consistently worked to fully fund the GLRI.

The GLRI, an inter-agency effort led by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, was created in 2009 to support ecological projects in the region.  It has invested more than $70 million in 75 Illinois initiatives including the removal of toxic chemicals from Waukegan Harbor, green infrastructure projects like the Millennium Reserve near the Calumet River, and the restoration of 40 acres of land at Northerly Island. 

The GLRI also provides Illinois with $7 million per year to combat Asian carp through electronic barriers and commercial fishing.  Several organizations, municipalities and universities in Illinois have received funding from the GLRI to survey beaches and coordinate electronic recycling efforts.