Great Lakes Commission applauds release of new Great Lakes Restoration Action Plan
The Commission calls on Congress to reauthorize and increase funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative
Ann Arbor, Mich. – The Great Lakes Commission applauds the release by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency of a new action plan to guide the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) through 2024. The release of the new GLRI Action Plan sets the stage for continued progress and underscores the Commission’s call to Congress to formally reauthorize the program and increase its investment in the largest system of fresh surface water in the world.
The Commission passed a formal policy resolution at its annual meeting in Québec City, Québec, that called on Congress to reauthorize the GLRI through FY 2026 and incrementally increase the authorized funding level to the first year’s appropriation of $475 million annually, supporting bipartisan legislation introduced this year in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate.
The Commission also applauds EPA’s commitment to accountability and reporting and continues to urge EPA to pursue tracking and reporting processes that present data and progress updates in a comprehensive, cohesive, user-friendly manner. To that end, the Commission renews its offer to EPA to utilize Blue Accounting as a dynamic information hub that sets collaborative goals, metrics, and tracks progress.
The Commission emphasized that significant work remains to achieve regional restoration goals for the Great Lakes, including cleaning up 19 remaining U.S. Areas of Concern, reducing phosphorous inputs related to harmful algal blooms, and implementing conservation actions on an estimated ten million acres needing financial assistance, restoring 1.5 million acres of habitat, and preventing the introduction and spread of harmful invasive species such as Asian carp.
“The Great Lakes Commission remains firmly committed to sustaining the progress we’ve achieved under the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and looks forward to working with U.S. EPA and our other federal partners to implement the new Action Plan,” said Sharon M. Jackson, the Commission’s newly elected chair from Indiana. She added that “it is critical that the Great Lakes states are effectively engaged as the GLRI moves forward, and that the Great Lakes Commission fulfills its authorities under the Great Lakes Basin Compact of 1955 to plan for the welfare of our region and address the critical challenges facing the Great Lakes.”
The Commission recognizes the GLRI as a wise investment in the region’s economy, with clear evidence showing that restoration leads to economic revitalization in waterfront communities. A rigorous analysis of the program’s economic impact coordinated by the Commission – and cited by U.S. EPA in the new GLRI Action Plan – found that every dollar invested under the GLRI will generate more than three dollars in additional economic activity over the next two decades.
Established in 2009 and guided by priorities from the Great Lakes states, the GLRI is a highly successful regional restoration program focused on cleaning up the most heavily degraded areas along the lakes; preventing the introduction and spread of harmful invasive species; reducing harmful algal blooms; restoring and protecting valuable fish and wildlife resources; and filling knowledge gaps and supporting education to protect the Great Lakes.
The Great Lakes Basin Compact authorizes the Great Lakes Commission to advocate on behalf of the eight Great Lakes states and provinces in support of issues of common interest. Using this authority, the Commission has been a leading voice for full funding of the GLRI and has advised Congress and federal agencies on principles for its implementation in a manner consistent with the views and priorities of the Great Lakes states.
The Great Lakes Commission, led by chair Sharon M. Jackson, Deputy General Counsel for Governor Eric J. Holcomb of Indiana, is an interstate compact agency established under the Great Lakes Basin Compact of 1955. The Commission is authorized by state and U.S. federal law and dedicated to promoting a strong economy, healthy environment and high quality of life for the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Basin and its residents. The Commission consists of governors’ appointees, state legislators, industry and nonprofit leaders and agency officials from eight states and two provinces. Associate membership for Ontario and Québec was established through the signing of a “Declaration of Partnership.” The Commission maintains a formal Observer program involving U.S. and Canadian federal agencies, tribal authorities, binational agencies and other regional interests. The Commission office is in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Learn more at www.glc.org.