Legislation to provide funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative continues to evolve in Washington, D.C.

The initiative annually provides funding to help clean up the Great Lakes.

The U.S. House Appropriations Committee last week initially had set the funding for the initiative at $60 million for the next fiscal year.

U.S. Rep. Dave Joyce, R-Russell Township, who is a House Appropriations Committee member, was able to get an amendment adopted that increased the funding level to $210 million.

His amendment was considered to be budget neutral because it extended a federal helium program that sells the gas to companies, said Adam Wolf, senior legislative assistant for Joyce.

It’s also possible that an additional amount could be appropriated when Congress returns from an August recess, but any additional amount appropriated would most likely need to be considered budget neutral as well, Wolf said.

During a news conference July 22 at Lake Metroparks Lake Erie Bluffs in Perry Township, Joyce announced that the initiative was part of the Great Lakes Ecological and Economic Protection Act of 2013 that he introduced.

GLEEPA is a larger bill and within the measure Congress would be authorized to appropriate initiative funding for up to $475 million annually.

Wolf said that $299.5 million was appropriated for the initiative in fiscal year 2011 and $299.4 million was appropriated in fiscal year 2012.

For fiscal year 2013, $284.13 million was appropriated for the initiative after the federal sequestration, he said.
Joyce cited a Northeast Ohio example of how the initiative funds were previously be used in Northeast Ohio.

He said the funding helped provide cleanup of 630,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment in the Ashtabula River that contained 25,000 pounds of hazardous compounds.

Joyce said passage of the amendment to increase the funding level from $60 million to $210 million was a big win for the Great Lakes region.

“The Great Lakes are directly connected to 1.5 million jobs, generating $62 billion in wages, and providing over 30 million Americans clean drinking water,” Joyce said in a statement.

“It’s crucial that Congress works in a bipartisan manner to protect the entire Great Lakes region and preserve its economic might and environmental integrity.”