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Budget bill includes Lake Erie funding

By Tom Jackson • Feb 24, 2019 at 4:00 PM

SANDUSKY — You might have missed it during all of the arguments about funding for President Donald Trump’s southern border wall, but environmental programs benefiting Lake Erie got good funding in last week’s budget bill.

The bill, which Trump signed recently, included money for many Great Lakes programs.

“This is a real case of bipartisan cooperation, one of the few cases you can find these days,” said Jordan Lubetkin, regional spokesman for the National Wildlife Federation. “We’re hoping we see more of that in the coming years.”

Lubetkin said Ohio lawmakers who worked for Great Lakes funding included U.S. senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman and U.S. House members Marcy Kaptur and David Joyce. Brown and Kaptur are Democrats; Portman and Joyce are Republicans.

According to a National Wildlife Federation tally, the budget bill included the following provisions:

• $300 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the same amount as last year.

• $1.7 billion for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, the same as last year.

• $1.2 billion for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, also matching last year’s appropriation.

• $68 million for the Water Infrastructure Financing and Innovation Act, a $5 million increase.

• $5 million for the Coast Guard to buy a new icebreaker.

• $68 million for the Sea Grant program, which funds the Ohio Sea Grant program in Ottawa County on Gibraltar Island, near Put-in-Bay.

• $11 million for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s work on the Asian carp program, including $2 million for contract fishing.

• $7.6 million for U.S. Geological Survey research on Asian carp, including $2 million focused on grass carp. The USGS has an office of fish scientists, the Lake Erie Biological Station, at NASA Plum Brook Station near Sandusky.

• $37.29 million for the Great Lakes Fisheries Commission.

Kaptur’s office said the measure also included $5 million for EPA research grants to learn more about harmful algal blooms, and another $5 million to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for coastal science and harmful algal blooms research.

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