Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Act of 2016by Representative Betty McCollum
Posted on 2016-04-26
in the house of representatives
Tuesday, April 26, 2016
Ms. McCOLLUM. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 223, the Great
Lakes Restoration Initiative Act of 2016.
The Great Lakes provide clean drinking water for over 40 million Americans. The region supports an estimated 1.5 million jobs, and generates over $60 billion in annual wages. Protecting the Great Lakes supports public health, public lands and beaches, local economies, and job creation.
In Minnesota, the restoration of Lake Superior and the St. Louis River is vital to our State and our tribal nations. In 1987, the St. Louis River Estuary was classified as an Area of Concern because of contamination from decades of dumping untreated sewage and industrial waste into the water. Since that designation, millions of dollars have been invested in cleanup, restoration, and infrastructure.
We've started to see some measureable improvements along the St. Louis River that are lowering human health risks, re-establishing sturgeon spawning grounds and wild rice beds, and increasing property values. We have a clear path forward involving all stakeholders in the Roadmap to Delisting for the Area of Concern.
Mr. Speaker, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) has been a huge driver of the progress that Minnesota has made in cleaning up the St. Louis River. Success stories like this are spread all across our region because of the federal investments made by the GLRI. These funds have driven public-private partnerships that support the health of our waters and the quality of life for all Americans.
More than 100,000 acres of wetlands and 48,000 acres of coastal, upland, and island habitat have been protected, restored and enhanced in just the first five years of GLRI partnerships between the federal agencies, states and tribal nations.
H.R. 223 would authorize $300 million a year for the crucial work of the GLRI, which will help remediate areas of environmental concern, control invasive species, restore habitat and wildlife, and support local businesses. Every federal dollar put into Great Lakes restoration generates $2 in economic benefit, making restoration an excellent return on investment for taxpayer dollars.
The Great Lakes are a national treasure. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Act will build on the successes of recent years and ensure the lakes are protected for generations to come.