Federal funding for Great Lakes environmental restoration up for debate
By Matt Mikus firstname.lastname@example.org July 30, 2013 7:26PM
A little girl plays in the grassy area of the dunes above a crowded beach at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore west of Michigan City. | Post-Tribune file photo
Updated: September 1, 2013 6:34AM
A House bill planned for debate on Wednesday could cut funding to a Great Lakes environmental restoration program by nearly 80 percent.
Last week, the Republican-controlled House Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Subcommittee passed a bill that would reduce the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding from $285 million set in this year’s budget to $60 million.
The bill is headed to the full House Appropriations Committee for debate.
The funding is used to clean up toxins, restore habitats and control invasive species.
This year, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative provided funds for the Grand Calumet River dredging. About 65 percent of the total $80 million comes from the initiative.
U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Ind., said the funding is essential to providing jobs and improving public health and safety.
“These are legacy projects, and we need to clean them up,” Visclosky said. “I’m a strong proponent of these monies and how they’re implemented.”
Visclosky said there’s a chance that amendments will be offered Wednesday during the committee meeting, but he wasn’t willing to speculate on how the debate would go.
“You just never know how these things will play out,” he said.