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House panel approves $300 million for Great Lakes

GLRI funding helps projects like the Maple River dam removal
Ben Thorp
GLRI funding helps projects like the Maple River dam removal

Despite a White House proposal to eliminate $300 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the House Appropriations Committee voted late Tuesday to fully fund the program through September 2018.

The vote marks an important step toward securing funding for the Great Lakes cleanup program in the federal budget for the next fiscal year.Latest from Congress

The funding was part of an Environmental Protection Agency spending bill. Overall, the bill decreases annual funding for the agency by $528 million. President Trump's budget called for a $2.6 billion cut.

Read our series on the impact of the Trump budget plan.

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has a history of strong bipartisan support, and has funded projects aiming to improve water quality, decrease harmful algal blooms, and manage invasive species.

The spending bill also includes funds for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to continue fighting invasive species like quagga mussels and Asian carp.

A similar effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay took a hit. The committee approved $60 million for the bay program -- $13 million less than the 2017 allocation. 

The committee vote means the bill can now move on to the House.

Copyright 2017 Great Lakes Today

Veronica Volk is a senior editor and producer for WXXI News.