WASHINGTON, D.C. — Following a hearing of the Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works (EPW), U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) urged Congress to pass bipartisan legislation which is aimed at preserving the Great Lakes and bolstering economic growth throughout the Great Lakes region. Brown is the cosponsor of the Great Lakes Ecological and Economic Protection Act (GLEEPA), which the EPW Committee considered today. GLEEPA would protect the Great Lakes—and the millions of jobs they support—from a variety of ecological threats and invasive species like Asian carp. It would accomplish this by fully funding the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI).

“Lake Erie is important to the economy of Northern Ohio and the livelihood of its citizens,” Brown said. “Congress must fully fund the GLRI in order to protect Ohio’s drinking water and the thousands of fishing, boating, and recreation jobs that are dependent on clean and safe waters. It can accomplish this by passing the bipartisan Great Lakes Ecological and Economic Protection Act, which would ensure that the Great Lakes, including Lake Erie, are preserved for future generations to enjoy.”

According to the State of Ohio, more than $10 billion of the state’s nearly $40 billion tourism industry is derived from counties along the Lake Erie shoreline. The GLRI is an interagency effort to target the most significant problems in the region and jumpstart restoration efforts to protect, maintain, and restore the chemical, biological, and physical integrity of the Great Lakes. GLRI funding has helped support the removal of invasive species and plants in Ohio, funded the Toledo Harbor Sediment Management Plan, and provided resources for a comprehensive monitoring program to assess the nearshore Lake Erie water quality.

GLEEPA would:

  • Authorize the GLRI and direct the implementation of recommendations presented in the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy of 2005 and the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Action Plan. The bill authorizes the appropriations for the GLRI at $475 million annually.
  • Reauthorize the Great Lakes National Program Office (GLNPO), the primary office within the agency for handling Great Lakes matters, including the GLRI, Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA), the Great Lakes Legacy Program, Remedial Action Plans for Areas of Concern, and Lakewide Management Plans.
  • Reauthorize the Great Lakes Legacy Act, which was first authorized in 2002 and has been extremely successful at removing contaminated sediment from the U.S. Areas of Concern (AOC).
  • Authorize the Federal Interagency Task Force (IATF), which brings together eleven U.S. Cabinet and federal agency heads to coordinate restoration of the Great Lakes amongst the different agencies.
  • Authorize the Great Lakes Advisory Board (GLAB), which will provide advice and recommendations to the EPA Administrator, as Chair of the Great Lakes Interagency Task Force, on matters pertaining to Great Lakes restoration and protection.

Brown continues to fight for the protection of Lake Erie and to ensure it receives the necessary funding to strengthen Ohio’s economy. Earlier this year, Brown helped secure more than $300 million in bipartisan Omnibus Bill funds for the GLRI. In May, Congress passed a critical water infrastructure bill that includes an amendment introduced by Brown that would help prevent the invasion of Asian carp into the Ohio and Upper Mississippi River Basins.