Rep. Kelly Champions Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Act on House Floor

Dec 9, 2014


WASHINGTON — U.S. Representative Mike Kelly (PA-03) – co-chairman of the Northeast-Midwest (NEMW) Congressional Coalition – delivered remarks on the floor of the House of Representatives today in support of H.R. 5764, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Act of 2014, of which he is a co-sponsor. The bipartisan legislation was passed unanimously by the House this afternoon.

Highlights of Rep. Kelly’s floor speech:

“We all understand what it is that makes the Great Lakes great, and I think that’s the whole point of what we’re talking about: this is a gift from God.”

“If you could just close your eyes for one minute and visualize in your mind’s eye the continental United States, the landmass, the volume of freshwater contained in our Great Lakes would cover that landmass by 9 ½ to 10 feet! It is an incredible amount of water. But more importantly, it is an incredible gift from God. We have to protect this area. Why would we not? The statistics that we talk about are overwhelming.”

“We thank a lot of people for being involved with this, but you know who I want to thank more than anybody else? It’s the hardworking American taxpayers. By our Constitution, we are granted the authority to tax them, but we are also given the responsibility to spend their money the right way.”

“One-fifth of the world’s freshwater – not one-fifth of Pennsylvania’s, not one-fifth of the United States’, not one-fifth of North America’s – but one-fifth of the world’s freshwater resides in the Great Lakes.”

“We have an opportunity to do something that just makes sense to each and every one of us. We can get this done. And if I may, just for a minute, to paraphrase Luke 12:48: ‘To whom much is given, much is required.’ Mr. Speaker, I would suggest that this is not an option. This is a moral obligation, on behalf of the people of this great country, to look at one of the assets that we have, a gift from God, and make sure that we preserve it for future generations.”

NOTE: The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Act of 2014 (H.R. 5764) amends the Clean Water Act to authorize the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) for Fiscal Years 2015 – 2019. The GLRI was an inter-agency program launched by President Obama in 2009 to implement a regional collaboration strategy developed in 2005 through a process established by an executive order from then-President George W. Bush in 2004. The GLRI had not previously received congressional authorization. Without increasing federal spending, this bill would authorize the GLRI at $300 million (the amount already appropriated over the past four fiscal years) each year for the next five years.

With the help of GLRI, Presque Isle Bay in Erie, Pennsylvania was removed from the Environmental Protection Agency’s list of Areas of Concern in 2013. Additionally, the GLRI has been instrumental in keeping Asian Carp from invading the Great Lakes and threatening its world class fisheries.