Congressman Brian Higgins, a member of the bipartisan Congressional Great Lakes Task Force, has announced approval of H.R. 223, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Act (GLRI) of 2016 in the House of Representatives.
The legislation authorizes $300 million annually for fiscal years 2017 through 2021 to accelerate efforts to protect and restore the Great Lakes.
“In recent years Western New York came to realize that the best opportunity we have to help grow our economy is not found in a new big box store or with an international investor, the answer is right here in the fresh water sitting at our doorstep,” said Congressman Higgins.
“Efforts to restore, protect and enhance the Great Lakes have been identified as a priority by the United States and Canada and this legislation advances that agenda. Western New York will continue to see great benefits from this commitment.”
Over the last five years more than $40.4 million in federal GLRI funding has been invested in Western New York projects.
The Buffalo River and Niagara River are among 27 “Areas of Concern” identified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as priority sites.
Higgins points out that federal funding is driving private sector investments as well. Along the Buffalo River alone, $72.8 million in federal funding, including GLRI and federal highway dollars, has led to more than $81.2 million in new private sector projects since 2013 and interest continues to grow.