WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) reiterated his commitment to fighting for Lake Erie as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released a prediction this week that Lake Erie will experience a harmful algal bloom (HAB) this summer. Brown has been a fierce advocate for Lake Erie and has led efforts to keep Lake Erie healthy.
“Lake Erie is one of Ohio’s most important natural resources and we must do all we can to keep it healthy for the businesses, farmers and residents who rely on it,” Brown said. “We need long-term investments in Lake Erie -- like those outlined in last year’s Farm Bill -- as well as an unequivocal commitment from the Administration to support federal programs that we know successfully keep Lake Erie clean.”
In December, President Trump signed the final 2018 Farm Bill into law, which includes several provisions U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) fought to include to protect Lake Erie and Ohio waterways. The final bill includes provisions from Brown’s bipartisan Give Our Resources the Opportunity to Work (GROW) Act, which will better utilize existing federal water programs to protect waterways and expand access to quality farmland.
Brown, the first Ohioan to serve on the Senate Agriculture Committee in more than 50 years, helped secure these provisions as a member of the committee tasked with reconciling the differences between the House and Senate versions of the 2018 Farm Bill
The final bill includes Brown’s provisions to:
- Create a new Clean Lakes, Estuaries, and Rivers (CLEAR) program to better promote water quality. This prioritizes enrolling lands in the Conservation Reserve Program that will best prevent runoff and protect water quality.
- Authorize advanced payments for beginning farmers as a part of the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP). This program would reserve funding for conservation practices that protect drinking water.
- Include reforms to the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), which would prioritize cover crops and crop rotations.
- Authorize increased payments for the top 10 high-priority practices that protect the environment.
- Reform the Regional Conservation Partnership Program which Brown helped developed in the 2014 Farm Bill.
- Increase funding to preserve farmland for future generations.
Brown has also long fought to secure full Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) funding. GLRI is a highly successful program that has jumpstarted restoration efforts to protect, maintain, and restore the chemical, biological, and physical integrity of the Great Lakes like Lake Erie. Brown and Senator Portman announced full funding of $300 million for the GLRI last year. In Fiscal Year 2018, the President proposed eliminating GLRI and Senators Brown and Portman worked together to ensure it was fully funded in the two most recent appropriations bill.
In early March, President Trump released his budget proposal that included a $270 million cut to the GLRI. At a rally in Michigan later that month, President Trump vowed to secure the full $300 million for GLRI. Brown wrote a letter to the Trump Administration in March demanding answers about the President’s reversal and whether he intended to fully fund the program.
Earlier this year, Brown spoke out after President Trump’s proposed budget reversed a measure that Brown and Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) were able to secure to prevent the Army Corps of Engineers from dumping toxic materials dredged from the Cuyahoga River shipping channel into Lake Erie.
Brown will continue fighting for Lake Erie and promoting efforts to keep the Lake clean.