WASHINGTON, D.C. — Four U.S. representatives, including two from Michigan, and the bipartisan Great Lakes Task Force introduced the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) Act of 2024 Tuesday in Washington.
U.S. Representatives Bill Huizenga (R-MI), Debbie Dingell (D-MI), Dave Joyce (R-OH) and Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) say the bill would extend the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.
Right now, it’s set to expire at the end of Fiscal Year 2026, but this legislation would reauthorize it for another five years through FY 2031.
It also boosts the current authorization level from $475 million to $500 million in FY26.
FOX 17 talked with Congressman Huizenga, co-chair of the House Great Lakes Task Force, Friday to learn more about this effort.
“There’s kind of two different tracks here. One is the authorization. That’s what we’re dealing with right now. So, and what that means is there’s a five-year authorization, meaning it’s like a recognized federal program,” Rep. Huizenga explained. “Then we get to go in every year and have the battle about how to fund it and at what level to fund it.”
The GLRI aims to accelerate efforts to protect and restore the largest system of fresh surface water in the world.
“Let’s start with the ecology side of it, you know, that the health of our Great Lakes Water System is key and incumbent upon making sure that it is used and respected and dealt with properly, but that also has greater ramifications for our entire ecosystem and the ecology. It’s something that we recreate on…It’s something that attracts people from around the country, and frankly, around the world to come,” Rep. Huizenga said. “The economy that we have that’s based on the Great Lakes, it’s both our commercial fishing, it’s our shipping that’s on there, and then again, with those folks that have recreational dollars, whether they’re local Michiganders or whether they’re coming from another state or even another country, they’re coming and they wouldn’t be coming if it wasn’t pristine, if it wasn’t healthy, if they weren’t feeling good about making sure that their family was utilizing it. So, it really kind of hits all the various major bases in my opinion.”
It has provided more than $3.37 billion to fund 6,851 projects throughout the Great Lakes region since 2010.