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Higgins announces committee approval of Great Lakes Restoration Initiative

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Fri, Sep 20th 2019 05:35 pm

Bill, cosponsored by Higgins, includes ‘significant boost’ in federal resources available for cleanup, protection of Buffalo River & Great Lakes

Congressman Brian Higgins, D-NY-26, announced the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) Act of 2019 (HR4031), legislation increasing GLRI funding over the next five years, from $375 million in 2022 to $475 million by 2026.

Higgins, a cosponsor of the bill and member of the Congressional Great Lakes Task Force, said, “The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is one of this country’s greatest environmental and economic success stories. Federal investments are cleaning up our waterways and transforming the communities around them. The Buffalo Region alone has received more than $70 million through GLRI, and this legislation will expand opportunities for clean water-based investments in the years ahead.”

The Trump administration’s fiscal year 2018 budget proposed full elimination of the GLRI, while Trump’s FY2019 Budget cut GLRI by 90%, to $30 million. Higgins and other members of Congress acted to restore Great Lakes Funding to $300 million each year.

Under the GLRI Act of 2019, Great Lakes Funding would increase by more than $175 million over the next five years: $375 million in FY2022, $400 million in FY2023, $425 million in FY2024, $450 million in FY2025 and $475 million in FY 2026.

In 1987, following decades of heavy industrialization, the Buffalo River, found to be “ecologically dead,” was declared a Great Lakes Area of Concern (AOC). The GLRI was launched in 2010 to protect and restore the Great Lakes, the largest source of fresh water in the world.

Over the past decade, millions in federal Great Lakes Funding invested in and around the Buffalo River AOC have contributed to the ecological and economic turnaround of the Buffalo River.

A recent report highlighting the success of Buffalo River cleanup details more than $428 million in waterfront development projects along the Buffalo River between 2012-18. A separate study by the University at Michigan found that each federal GLRI dollar invested in Buffalo yields $4 in additional economic activity, a higher rate than the average of $3.35 across all the GLRI areas.

The bipartisan Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Act of 2019 will now move to a vote before the full House of Representatives.

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