WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) renewed his call to restore Great Lakes Funding ahead of today’s expected National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Lake Erie harmful algal bloom forecast in Toledo.
“We need every tool at our disposal to protect the health of Lake Erie,” said Brown. “The millions of Ohioans who rely on the Lake can’t afford to lose important resources like the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative as they face the threat of algal blooms. My Ohio colleagues and I will continue our bipartisan efforts to secure the necessary investment to keep Lake Erie safe.”
In May, Brown blasted President Trump’s budget for eliminating the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI), a highly successful program that jumpstarted efforts to protect, maintain and restore the integrity of the Great Lakes. The budget also reduces funding for agricultural conservation programs and eliminates the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Sea Grant Program, which funds Ohio State Stone Lab on Lake Erie. Stone Lab plays a critical role in monitoring and protecting Lake Erie.
In the government funding measure passed earlier this year, Brown and U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) helped ensure that the measure included $300 million for GLRI for the remainder of the fiscal year, battling back reported attempts to cut the GLRI by $50 million this fiscal year.
Brown has worked to strengthen the GLRI – a highly successful program that has targeted the most significant problems in the region and jumpstarted restoration efforts to protect, maintain, and restore the chemical, biological, and physical integrity of the Great Lakes.
As the first Ohioan to serve on the Senate Agriculture Committee in more than 40 years, Brown helped to establish the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) in the 2014 Farm Bill which created voluntary partnerships between agricultural and conservation groups aimed at helping farmers improve soil health, protect water quality, and restore wildlife habitats. This program has resulted in numerous innovative conservation practices that are reducing runoff into Lake Erie.
In March 2016, Brown announced a $41 million investment through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) in additional Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) funding to help protect the western Lake Erie basin from harmful algal blooms and improve water quality. In fiscal years 2008 - 2015, NRCS obligated a total of $314 million in technical and financial assistance for conservation throughout the Great Lakes region through foundation Farm Bill Programs.
Last Congress, Brown cosponsored the Great Lakes Ecological and Economic Protection Act of 2015 (GLEEPA) – a bill that would reauthorize the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and codify the program into statute. In December, Brown successfully fought to include authorization for GLRI in Public Law 114-332.