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Great Lakes restoration funding roundabout continues

International Joint Commission

A federal program dedicated to environmental restoration and cleaning up of the Great Lakes has escaped a massive budget cut. A committee in the U.S. House of Representatives has voted to amend a bill that looked to slash the program’s funding, partially restoring it to 210-million for fiscal year 2014.

The House bill originally aimed to cut 80 percent of the program’s budget, from nearly 300-million-dollars to just 60-million in 2014.

A House committee has since revised that figure from 60 million to 210 million.

But, a Senate funding bill released Thursday would restore the budget for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to its pre-sequestration level.

Jordan Lubetkin, spokesman for the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition, says any cuts in funding will only lead to greater costs down the line.

“I think the drastic cuts elicited a huge response from the Great Lakes community. People are really upset and I think lawmakers heard that. And we’re pleased that Great Lakes funding has been partially restored, we think that’s a step in the right direction, but we are still fighting for the full $300 million.”

Lubetkin says they’re optimistic that funding will be restored to its original level.

He says strong bi-partisan support and pressure from Great Lakes communities have avoided budget cuts to the program in the past.

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