LANSING – On Thursday, U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow and U.S. Sen. Gary Peters announced legislation that would extend sunset of the Great Lake Restoration Initiative by five years and increase funding for the project.

The move, they said, would build on existing success and improve conditions of the lakes.

Under the proposed legislation the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative sunset would be moved from 2021 to 2026. It would also increase the current funding of $300 million to $375 million in 2022 and then increase it $25 million annually until it reaches $475 million in 2026.

The initiative was created in 2010 and outside of Michigan also funds projects in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York.

“Our Initiative has made a real difference across Michigan by funding hundreds of projects with proven results,” Stabenow (D-Lansing) said in a statement. “Republicans and Democrats agree – the best way to tackle the challenges and threats to our water is to continue investing in the health of our Great Lakes and waterways.”

The initiative has been funded at $300 million in recent years. President Donald Trump in each of his budgets has proposed slashed most or all of the funding, but it has been restored by Congress each time after backlash from lawmakers from the states that border the Great Lakes. This year he announced a reversal of his position and agreed to fully funding the initiative during a Grand Rapids rally.

Peters (D-Bloomfield Township) agreed with Stabenow in a statement, saying it was incumbent to “build on existing efforts by passing this bipartisan legislation to extend and increase funding for this vital initiative, which helps restore habitats, combat invasive species as well as clean and prevent pollution.”

In June, Governor Gretchen Whitmer called for a reauthorization of the initiative with funding of $475 million for each of the next five years.

This story was published by Gongwer News Service.