U.S Senator Dick Durbin is warning against harsh cuts in government spending on the Great Lakes, saying many crucial programs would be threatened.   Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives’ Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Subcommittee passed a spending bill that would cut funding in the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) by 80 percent-from $285 million to $60 million. Durbin believes that reduction will have serious consequences.
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“The House’s funding cuts would cripple our ability to ward off Asian carp, clean up beaches contaminated by E. coli, and prevent polluted runoff from entering the Great Lakes,” Durbin said.  $7 million of the GLRI’s annual funding has been used on anti-Asian carp measures, mostly focused on electronic barriers. The senator’s office also says the cuts would affect low-interest loans offered to communities to assist with upgrades to storm water and sewage treatment systems. Durbin is putting the blame on House Republicans for not recognizing the potential damage of the proposed reductions.
“In the scheme of things in Washington D.C., this is not a major amount of money,” Durbin said, “but when we’re talking about the future of the Great Lakes and the investment our generation needs to make, this is a critical cut.”  The GLRI’s funding had already been reduced by $15 million in fiscal year 2013 due to sequestration. The program was initially funded with an appropriation of $475 million in 2010. The proposed cuts will now go to the House Appropriations Committee for review.
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