Statement on Efforts to Reauthorize the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative

Columbus, OH — On Thursday, U.S. Senators Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown and Representatives David Joyce (OH-14), Marcy Kaptur (OH-09), Anthony Gonzalez (OH-16), Tim Ryan (OH-13), Steve Stivers (OH-15), Marcia Fudge (OH-11), Bob Gibbs (OH-07), and Mike Turner (OH-10) joined Great Lakes lawmakers to introduce companion legislation in the Senate and House reauthorizing the highly successful Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) for another five years when it expires at the end of fiscal year 2021. Under the GLRI Act of 2019 (H.R. 4031), the authorization for GLRI would be increased to $375M in fiscal year 2022 and would increase by $25 million annually until reaching $475 million by fiscal year 2026.

In response, the following quote can be attributed in full or part to Kristy Meyer, Advocate for the Ohio Environmental Council Action Fund:

“We applaud U.S. Senators Portman and Brown and Representatives Joyce, Kaptur, Gonzalez, Ryan, Stivers, Fudge, Gibbs, and Turner for their leadership in increasing the funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) to $475 million by fiscal year 2026. The GLRI is a highly successful program. For every $1 invested in restoring the Great Lakes approximately $4 will be returned in economic and environmental benefits. As a result of the GLRI, Ohio has benefited in cleaner and safer water in rivers, lakes, and streams and for drinking, as well as restored places to fish, hike, and reconnect with friends and families.

We have a lot of work left to do to fully restore and protect Lake Erie and the other Great Lakes, including reducing agricultural runoff, delisting Ohio’s remaining areas of concern, and restoring vital habitat to protect millions of Ohioans’ drinking water. As we renew this program, it will be vitally important to ensure these funds are distributed equitably as we know those that are experiencing the greatest environmental issues are those of low-economic status and minorities. We look forward to working with Ohio’s Congressional members and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to ensure these funds are dispersed equitably while protecting and restoring water quality in the Lake Erie watershed, where millions of Ohioans fish, boat, swim and source their drinking water.”

Additional Information on the GLRI:

  • The GLRI was launched in 2010 to accelerate efforts to protect and restore the largest system of fresh surface water in the world, the Great Lakes. The GLRI has been critical to addressing the most persistent and challenging environmental problems facing this important ecosystem.

  • A 2018 report commissioned by the Great Lakes Commission showed the following:

    • For every GLRI dollar spent from 2010 – 2016 will have the following impacts through 2036: $3.35 in economic activity will be created, $1.62 will be generated in additional economic activity in tourism-related industries, and $1.08 in quality of life improvements will be produced for residents in coastal communities.

    • A total of $1.4 billion in federal spending on GLRI projects in the Great Lakes states between 2010 and 2016. Matching funds, primarily from state and local governments, contributed an estimated additional $360 million in funding, bringing total spending on GLRI projects in the Great Lakes states to $1.7 billion. 

    • The GLRI created or supported an average of 5,180 jobs per year and increased personal income by an average of $250 million per year in the Great Lakes region from 2010 – 2016.  

  • Between 2010 –2016, the GLRI:

    • Cleaned up and restored harbors and coastal areas that were contaminated by decades of legacy pollution

    • Controlled invasive species on approximately 115,000 acres

    • Prevented 402,000 pounds of phosphorus from entering the Great Lakes

    • Protected, restored and enhanced 642 miles of shoreline and riparian corridors, 17,500 acres of coastal wetlands, and more than 180,000 acres of habitat.