Victory for Great Lakes Restoration Initiative

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) - A bill that would increase funding a program designed to protect the Great Lakes from invasive species and pollution has made it out of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

On Tuesday, U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer announced the current version of the Senate Water Resource Development Act includes an authorized funding increase for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative over the next three years.

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative was launched by the Obama Administration in 2010 and has funded projects in New York to improve water quality, combat invasive species such as hydrilla, and restore wetlands and other habitats. 

In October 2017, Jill Jedlicka, the Executive Director of the Buffalo-Niagara Waterkeeper said $50 million dollars from the Initiative has benefited restoration efforts right here in the Queen City, most notably on the Buffalo River.

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative was authorized for $300 million in 2016. This new bill would increase that funding over three years to $330 million in 2019, $360 million in 2020, and $390 million in 2021.

That money will be used to fund programs that  combat invasive species, decrease pollution, restore native wildlife populations, and implement awareness programs.

This is a significant achievement for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. The future of the Initiative looked bleak in March 2017 when President Trump proposed slashing its funding in his proposed 2018 budget.

The Senate Water Resource Development Act is far from becoming law. It still faces a full-floor vote before it heads over to the House of Representatives for review.

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