Steil, Baldwin push effort to aid Great Lakes
U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil, R-Wis., U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., are throwing their support behind legislative efforts to aid the Great Lakes.
On Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed the bipartisan Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Act to reauthorize and expand funding for the Great Lakes. Steil voted for the measure.
Baldwin, a member of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force, is calling on the Senate to take action and pass the bipartisan act.
Steil, who represents the 1st Congressional District, which includes Kenosha County, said he sent a letter to President Trump, urging support for the initiative in the 2021 fiscal year budget.
The act will reauthorize the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which is set to expire at the end of fiscal year 2021, for another five years.
The bill increases the current authorization level from $300 million to $375 million in fiscal year 2022 and increases funding by $25 million per year until it reaches $475 million in fiscal year 2026.
“The Great Lakes play an important role in Wisconsin’s economic success and environmental health. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has helped Wisconsin protect Lake Michigan and our shoreline communities,” Steil said.
“As Kenosha, Milwaukee and Racine counties face new environmental challenges, we must ensure southeast Wisconsin is resilient against these threats,” said Steil.
Earlier this year, Steil toured the shoreline damage from recent storms and flooding, which affected Kenosha, Racine and Milwaukee counties.
Steil, a co-sponsor of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Act of 2019 and the Great Lakes Coastal Resiliency Act of 2019, said he has spoken to Trump and Vice President Mike Pence about the erosion damage and the need to protect Lake Michigan.
“Lakeside properties and infrastructure are in danger of being lost, and the Asian carp has the potential to devastate the $7 billion fishing industry of the Great Lakes,” Steil wrote in his letter to Trump.
“From Kenosha to Racine counties, the Great Lakes are an integral part of our communities’ economic and environmental well-being. The GLRI has been a vital program that helps states restore and promote healthy ecosystems, while supporting local job creation and tourism.”
Baldwin said the bipartisan measure “is critical for the health of our region, our communities, and our clean water resources. It helps us clean up polluted sites, restore water quality and combat invasive species.”
“Preserving the Great Lakes is not just an environmental goal; it is an economic necessity for Wisconsin. The House did its job, and now the Senate needs to take action by passing my bipartisan legislation because making stronger, long-term investments in GLRI will help us ensure that our Great Lakes are protected and preserved for generations to come.”
According to Baldwin, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has tripled the successful cleanup and delisting of Areas of Concern, reduced phosphorus runoff and the threat of harmful algal blooms, controlled and stopped the advancement of invasive species, and restored wildlife habitat over thousands of miles of rivers and waterways.
Since 2010, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has provided more than $2.5 billion to fund 4,706 projects throughout the Great Lakes region.