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Task Force asks Biden administration for $425 million for Great Lakes Restoration Initiative

satellite map of Michigan, the Great Lakes
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
The Great Lakes is the largest source of fresh surface water in the world

A bipartisan Congressional task force has asked President Joe Biden to dedicate more money to the Great Lakes in his 2024 fiscal year budget.

In a letter to the President, the four-member task force from Ohio and Michigan asks for $425 million dollars for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. That's up significantly from last fiscal year's $368 million.

"The Great Lakes are a true national treasure that we must continue to prioritize and protect each year. These waters—Lake Huron, Lake Ontario, Lake Michigan, Lake Erie, and Lake Superior—comprise the largest surface freshwater system in the world, holding nearly 21percent of the world’s fresh water supply and 90 percent of the United States’ fresh water supply. The Lakes are also a key economic driver for the region that support jobs, commerce, agriculture, transportation, and tourism for millions of people across the country," the letter said.

The letter was signed by Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, and Republican Congressman Bill Huizinga, from Michigan, and Democratic Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur and Republican Congressman David P. Joyce, from Ohio,.

The request for a boost in funding is well-warranted, said Laura Rubin, Executive Director of Healing Our Waters - Great Lakes Coalition. Rubin said so far, federal investments in the initiative ave produced significant results.

"But we also know, living in the Great Lakes and in Michigan, that there's a lot of threats that remain that we need to address, from lead pipes to sewage overflows to flooding and toxic cleanups," she said. "If we wait and we cut back, the problems only get worse and more expensive to solve."

Rubin said the GLRI also has made progress in fighting harmful algal blooms and invasive speciies, as well as restoring native habitats.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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