U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand today announced $1,150,000 in federal funding for the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI). The DEC will use these vital resources to support projects along the Great Lakes in New York. The GLRI was launched by the Obama Administration in 2010, and has funded projects in New York to improve water quality, combat invasive species such as hydrilla, and restore wetlands and other habitats. Senators Schumer and Gillibrand have long supported funding for the GLRI through the appropriations process and expressed serious concerns about the administration’s plan to eliminate funding for GLRI in the proposed Fiscal Year 2018 budget. The proposed elimination of this program would end critical projects and programs that further the goals set out by the GLRI Action Plan Part 2, which include combating invasive species, decreasing pollution, restoring native and wildlife populations, and implementing awareness programs.
“It is imperative that we properly monitor, preserve and restore the quality of the our Great Lakes and connected waterways so residents and visitors can enjoy these invaluable Upstate NY resources for years to come,” said Senator Schumer. “Protecting New York’s most vital resources – like Lake Ontario and Lake Erie – from threats like invasive species and pollution remains a top priority of mine, and this $1.1 million in funding will support DEC’s efforts to do just that. This federal investment is a true victory and will allow for more recreation, fishing and tourism opportunities, meaning new jobs and millions of dollars in new revenue – not to mention cleaner drinking water. I will fight tooth and nail to make sure the administration fully funds this program now and in the future. Protecting our country’s natural resources and drinking water should never be put on the partisan chopping block.”
“The Great Lakes are an important natural, economic, and recreational resource for New York,” saidSenator Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “These federal funds will help provide the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation with additional resources needed to safeguard our freshwater ecosystems and preserve the natural beauty of the Great Lakes for future generations.”
Schumer and Gillibrand called this funding a major win for the State of New York. According to the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition, Congress has allocated more than $2.2 billion over the last seven years to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. The Senators said this federal initiative, in past years, has provided funding to worthwhile projects aimed at restoring and protecting the Great Lakes.
Schumer and Gillibrand explained that GLRI has been a key source of funding to combat invasive species and other environmental dangers in the past. Schumer and Gillibrand have long advocated for the GLRI, and for the Upstate NY communities that depend on these vital resources. In April, Schumer met with officials and residents along Seneca Lake to push to reverse a proposal by the Administration to eliminate GLRI funding. Schumer explained GLRI funding is needed this summer to address and eradicate a recently discovered outbreak of invasive Hydrilla along a 27 acre area within Seneca Lake near Auburn, NY. Fortunately, in May, Schumer and Gillibrand succeeded in ensuring that the bipartisan federal funding bill included funding for the GLRI. Schumer and Gillibrand vowed to ensure that any future federal funding bill will include funding for this essential program. .
In 2016 Schumer and Gillibrand announced that the Senate passed the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), which authorized $300 million per year, for the fiscal years 2017 through 2021, for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI). This five-year reauthorization provides $1.5 billion in total for the initiative, which has funded hundreds of projects along the Great Lakes, including many in Upstate NY along waterways like Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.
The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) was launched by the Obama Administration in 2010, and has funded projects in New York to improve water quality, combat invasive species, and restore wetlands and other habitats. Senators Schumer and Gillibrand have supported annual funding for the GLRI through the budget and appropriations process.