CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Tuesday, April 26, 2016, the House will consider H.R. 223, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Act of 2016, under suspension of the rules. H.R. 223 was introduced on January 8, 2015 by Rep. David Joyce (R-OH) and was referred to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, which ordered the bill reported, as amended, by voice vote, on March 2, 2016.
H.R. 223 amends section 118 of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (commonly referred to as the Clean Water Act) to reauthorize the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) within the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Specifically, this legislation directs the Administrator to prioritize projects and programs with non-Federal partners within the focus areas of toxic substance remediation, prevention and control of invasive species, protection and restoration of nearshore health, habitat and wildlife protection, and accountability and evaluation activities.
In addition, the Administrator is directed to collaborate with Federal partners to determine the best combination of programs and projects for protection and restoration of the region. While working with the Great Lakes Interagency Task Force, Federal agencies must determine whether a project or program achieves strategic and measurable environmental outcomes, discern the feasibility of implementation, and identify opportunities to improve interagency and intergovernmental coordination.
Millions of people in the United States and Canada depend on the Great Lakes—the largest system of freshwater in the world—as a source of drinking water, recreation, and economic livelihood. The Great Lakes Basin has been vulnerable to the effects of toxic and other pollutants as a result of industrial, agricultural, and residential development. The Great Lakes are particularly vulnerable to contamination because outflow rates from most of the Lakes are very slow causing pollutants discharged into the Great Lakes settle into the sediments at the bottom of the Lakes.
In 2004, Executive Order 13340 was issued, creating the Great Lakes Interagency Task Force (Task Force) to address nationally significant environmental and natural resource issues involving the Great Lakes. In 2010, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) was established by the Executive Branch to provide additional resources toward critical long-term goals for the Great Lakes ecosystem, and its progress is overseen by the Task Force.
During the first phase of the GLRI Action Plan, for Fiscal Years 2010 through 2014, GLRI resources supplemented agency budgets to fund over 2,000 projects to improve water quality, protect and restore native habitat and species, prevent and control invasive species and address other Great Lakes environmental problems. The second phase of the GLRI Action Plan is for Fiscal Years 2015 through 2019 and consists of five major focus areas: (1) Toxic Substances and Areas of Concern, (2) Invasive Species, (3) Nearshore Health and Nonpoint Source Pollution, (4) Habitat and Wildlife Protection and Restoration, and (5) Accountability, Education, Monitoring, Evaluation, Communication and Partnerships (Foundations for Future Restoration Actions).
According the bill’s sponsor, “Getting GLRI authorized for the next five years is crucial for the environment and the economy, and is why this common-sense initiative has such widespread support.”
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that enacting H.R. 223 would cost $1.35 billion over the next five years assuming appropriation of the authorized amounts. The program received an appropriation of $300 million for fiscal year 2016.
For questions or further information please contact Jake Vreeburg with the House Republican Policy Committee by email or at 5-0190.