(House of Representatives - December 09, 2014)

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[Pages H8892-H8897]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []


  Mr. GIBBS. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the bill 
(H.R. 5764) to authorize the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, and 
for other purposes.
  The Clerk read the title of the bill.
  The text of the bill is as follows:

                               H.R. 5764

       Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of 
     the United States of America in Congress assembled,


       This Act may be cited as the ``Great Lakes Restoration 
     Initiative Act of 2014''.


       Section 118(c) of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act 
     (33 U.S.C. 1268(c)) is amended by striking paragraph (7) and 
     inserting the following:
       ``(7) Great lakes restoration initiative.--
       ``(A) Establishment.--There is established in the Agency a 
     Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (referred to in this 
     paragraph as the `Initiative') to carry out programs and 
     projects for Great Lakes protection and restoration.
       ``(B) Focus areas.--The Initiative shall prioritize 
     programs and projects carried out in coordination with non-
     Federal partners and programs and projects that address 
     priority areas each fiscal year, including--
       ``(i) the remediation of toxic substances and areas of 
       ``(ii) the prevention and control of invasive species and 
     the impacts of invasive species;
       ``(iii) the protection and restoration of nearshore health 
     and the prevention and mitigation of nonpoint source 
       ``(iv) habitat and wildlife protection and restoration, 
     including wetlands restoration and preservation; and
       ``(v) accountability, monitoring, evaluation, 
     communication, and partnership activities.
       ``(C) Projects.--Under the Initiative, the Agency shall 
     collaborate with Federal partners, including the Great Lakes 
     Interagency Task Force, to select the best combination of 
     programs and projects for Great Lakes protection and 
     restoration using appropriate principles and criteria, 
     including whether a program or project provides--
       ``(i) the ability to achieve strategic and measurable 
     environmental outcomes that implement the Great Lakes Action 
     Plan and the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement;
       ``(ii) the feasibility of--

       ``(I) prompt implementation;
       ``(II) timely achievement of results; and
       ``(III) resource leveraging; and

       ``(iii) the opportunity to improve interagency and inter-
     organizational coordination and collaboration to reduce 
     duplication and streamline efforts.
       ``(D) Implementation of projects.--
       ``(i) In general.--Funds made available to carry out the 
     Initiative shall be used to strategically implement--

       ``(I) Federal projects; and
       ``(II) projects carried out in coordination with States, 
     Indian tribes, municipalities, institutions of higher 
     education, and other organizations.

       ``(ii) Transfer of funds.--With amounts made available for 
     the Initiative each fiscal year, the Administrator may--

       ``(I) transfer not more than $300,000,000 to the head of 
     any Federal department or agency, with the concurrence of the 
     department or agency head, to carry out activities to support 
     the Initiative and the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement; 
       ``(II) enter into an interagency agreement with the head of 
     any Federal department or agency to carry out activities 
     described in subclause (I).

       ``(E) Scope.--
       ``(i) In general.--Projects shall be carried out under the 
     Initiative on multiple levels, including--

       ``(I) Great Lakes-wide; and
       ``(II) Great Lakes basin-wide.

       ``(ii) Limitation.--No funds made available to carry out 
     the Initiative may be used for any water infrastructure 
     activity (other than a green infrastructure project that 
     improves habitat and other ecosystem functions in the Great 
     Lakes) for which amounts are made available from--

       ``(I) a State water pollution control revolving fund 
     established under title VI; or
       ``(II) a State drinking water revolving loan fund 
     established under section 1452 of the Safe Drinking Water Act 
     (42 U.S.C. 300j-12).

       ``(F) Activities by other federal agencies.--Each relevant 
     Federal department or agency shall, to the maximum extent 
       ``(i) maintain the base level of funding for the Great 
     Lakes activities of that department or agency without regard 
     to funding under the Initiative; and
       ``(ii) identify new activities and projects to support the 
     environmental goals of the Initiative.
       ``(G) Funding.--There is authorized to be appropriated to 
     carry out the Initiative $300,000,000 for each of fiscal 
     years 2015 through 2019.''.

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from 
Ohio (Mr. Gibbs) and the gentleman from New York (Mr. Bishop) each will 
control 20 minutes.

[[Page H8893]]

  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Ohio.

                             General Leave

  Mr. GIBBS. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may 
have 5 legislative days in which to revise and extend their remarks and 
include extraneous material on H.R. 5764.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from Ohio?
  There was no objection.
  Mr. GIBBS. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 5764, the Great Lakes 
Restoration Initiative Act of 2014.
  The Great Lakes are an important resource for the United States. More 
than 30 million people live in the Great Lakes region, and the lakes 
help support over $200 billion a year in economic activity.
  To help ensure coordination between Federal, State, and private 
parties in protecting and restoring the Great Lakes, a Great Lakes 
Interagency Task Force of Federal agencies was created in 2004. In 
2010, the task force released an action plan as part of the Great Lakes 
Restoration Initiative to accelerate efforts to protect and restore the 
Great Lakes.
  In September of this year, the Federal agencies released an updated 
Action Plan II, which summarized the actions that the Federal agencies 
planned to implement during fiscal years 2015 through 2019 using Great 
Lakes funding. The action plan aims to strategically target the biggest 
threats to the Great Lakes ecosystem and to accelerate progress toward 
long-term goals.
  Congressman Joyce introduced H.R. 5764 to amend the Great Lakes 
program provisions under section 118 of the Clean Water Act to formally 
authorize the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative for 5 years and to 
carry out projects and activities for Great Lakes protection and 
  Under the initiative, the Environmental Protection Agency is to 
collaborate with other Federal partners, including the Great Lakes 
Interagency Task Force, to select the best combination of projects and 
activities for Great Lakes protection and restoration. Specified 
principles and criteria are to be used in selecting projects and 
activities, including whether they, one, improve the interagency and 
interorganizational coordination and collaboration to reduce 
duplication and streamline efforts; two, provide the ability to timely 
achieve strategic and measurable environmental outcomes and leverage 
resources with other Federal and non-Federal partners.
  The bill authorizes the initiative for fiscal year 2015 through 2019. 
I encourage all Members to support H.R. 5764.
  I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. BISHOP of New York. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I 
may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 5764, the Great Lakes 
Restoration Initiative Act of 2014.
  Let me start by recognizing the hard work of the bipartisan 
cosponsors of this legislation, including the retiring dean of the 
House, Mr. Dingell, and commend their efforts to move this legislation.
  H.R. 5764 would authorize Federal appropriations for the Great Lakes 
Restoration Initiative, a program initiated by this administration to 
coordinate the Federal restoration efforts of the Great Lakes.
  For the decades leading up to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, 
many Federal agencies were involved in the cleanup and protection of 
the Great Lakes. However, their efforts were far from coordinated, 
resulting in inefficient cleanup activities that made little progress 
in the overall health of the Great Lakes.
  In 2010, this administration launched the initiative to accelerate 
efforts to protect and restore the largest fresh surface water system 
in the world, the Great Lakes. Under the leadership of the former EPA 
Administrator Lisa Jackson, this initiative prioritized five focus 
areas: cleaning up toxics and the Great Lakes areas of concern; 
combating invasive species; promoting the near-shore health by 
protecting watersheds from polluted runoff; restoring wetlands and 
other habitats; and tracking the progress made, as well as educating 
and working with strategic partners.
  As of August 2013, the initiative has funded more than 1,500 projects 
and programs of the highest priority to meet immediate cleanup and 
restoration and protection needs. As a result of these efforts, there 
is tangible proof that the health of the Great Lakes is improving--from 
the delisting of two additional U.S. Great Lakes Areas of Concern to a 
list of over 30 success stories recently documented by the Healing Our 
Waters Coalition. Yet additional progress is needed, and the 
authorization of appropriations contained in H.R. 5764 is a good step 
forward to continuing this effort.
  However, I would note that most of the successes of the Great Lakes 
Restoration Initiative can all be traced back to one factor that I have 
highlighted over and over again in this Congress: the critical need for 
robust Federal funding.
  As I noted during floor consideration of the Water Resources Reform 
and Development Act of 2013, as well as during numerous other 
authorization and appropriation bills this Congress, to see real 
progress in the programs we establish, we need also to provide the 
critical funding to our Federal agencies that implement these programs.
  Too often these days we seem driven to cut Federal spending for 
programs that provide a real benefit to our Nation without an awareness 
of the consequences of these actions. This Chamber will recognize that 
there are places where the Federal Government can help and should be 
making increased investments, such as to repair our crumbling 
infrastructure or to protect our fragile natural environment. Yet later 
this week, I fear that we will again be asked to vote on an 
appropriations package for the Federal Government that woefully 
underfunds critical investments in our Nation's future, from building 
the transportation infrastructure that will keep our country 
competitive into the next century, to investing in the water-related 
infrastructure that protects communities, families, and businesses, to 
making targeted improvements to our natural environment to ensure the 
protection of human, economic, and environmental health for generations 
to come.
  We need to do better. We need to recognize that the expenditure of 
Federal money to invest in our Nation is not inherently a bad thing. We 
need to understand that the Federal Government needs to be an active 
partner in addressing many of the complex challenges facing our States, 
our communities, and our everyday lives. And we need to support the 
missions of those Federal agencies we have charged with ensuring the 
long-term economic and environmental health of this Nation. These are 
only some of the ongoing challenges that face this Nation, and we need 
a Congress that is serious about taking on the hard questions and 
making the right investments, not only for our own lives and 
livelihoods, but for those generations of Americans to come.
  Mr. Speaker, I commend the bipartisan sponsors of this legislation 
for ensuring that the new authorization shows some willingness to 
provide robust funding for these restoration efforts rather than simply 
and mindlessly cutting these programs. I urge support of H.R. 5764.
  I reserve the balance of my time.

                                                 December 8, 2014.
       Dear Members of the Great Lakes House Delegation: We are 
     writing to convey our support for H.R. 5764, the Great Lakes 
     Restoration Initiative Act of 2014, bipartisan legislation 
     recently introduced by Representatives David Joyce, Louise 
     Slaughter, Sander Levin, and John Dingell. We understand the 
     bill may be considered this week under suspension of the 
     rules and urge you to support it. This is a top regional 
     priority for the Great Lakes states, local communities, 
     tribes, conservation organizations, and business and 
       This legislation provides formal authorization for the 
     Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI), an ambitious 
     regional restoration program for the Great Lakes that is 
     cleaning up degraded ``toxic hotspots,'' halting Asian carp 
     and other invasive species, and preventing polluted runoff 
     that closes beaches and causes harmful algal blooms. It 
     provides a solid legislative platform to ensure our region 
     continues to work together successfully to implement a 
     science-based and outcomes-focused plan of action for 
     restoring and protecting the Great Lakes.
       The bill directs U.S. EPA to collaborate with the Great 
     Lakes Interagency Task Force and state and local partners to 
     select the best combination of projects to protect and 
     restore the Great Lakes. It focuses on restoration projects 
     that can be implemented quickly, will achieve environmental 
     outcomes outlined in the new Great Lakes

[[Page H8894]]

     Action Plan and Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, and that 
     leverage other funding.
       Passing this legislation now will clarify the focus and 
     accountability of our restoration efforts and ensure the 
     program continues to achieve effective results. We recently 
     worked with federal agencies to rewrite the GL RI Action 
     Plan, which lays out our region's restoration goals and 
     objectives, and revises how we measure progress. The new plan 
     addresses the Government Accountability Office's review, 
     which found no major deficiencies in the GLRI program.
       Restoring the Great Lakes creates jobs, stimulates economic 
     development, and protects fresh drinking water for 30 million 
     people. The lakes currently generate over 1.5 million jobs 
     and $60 billion in wages annually, and provide the foundation 
     for a $30 billion tourism economy. Clearly, the Great Lakes 
     are an invaluable resource worth restoring and protecting, 
     and this legislation is critical to our collective efforts 
     toward this end. We urge you to support this bill.
     Tim Eder,
       Executive Director, Great Lakes Commission.
     Todd Ambs,
       Director, Healing Our Waters--Great Lakes Coalition.
     William Taylor,
       Chair, U.S. Section, Great Lakes Fishery Commission.
     David A. Ullrich,
       Executive Director, Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities 
     Jane A. TenEyck,
       Executive Director, Chippewa Ottawa Resource Authority.
     Kathryn A. Buckner,
       President, Council of Great Lakes Industries.
     Ed Wolking, Jr.,
       Executive Director, Great Lakes Metro Chambers Coalition.

                                              Healing Our Waters--

                                        Great Lakes Coalition,

                                                 December 8, 2014.
     House of Representatives,
     Washington, DC.
       Dear Representative: On behalf of the Healing Our Waters--
     Great Lakes Coalition, we write today to ask you to vote for 
     H.R. 5764, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Act of 
     2014. The legislation is vital in the ongoing effort to 
     restore the Great Lakes, which supplies drinking water to 
     more than 30 million people.
       The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Act helps achieve 
     our region's restoration goals by formally authorizing the 
     popular Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI). The GLRI 
     is a successful, bipartisan response to protecting and 
     restoring one-fifth of the world's surface fresh water. Our 
     region's recent restoration efforts started when President 
     George W. Bush asked for a restoration blueprint, which the 
     1,500 stakeholders that were a part of the Great Lakes 
     Regional Collaboration produced in 2005. President Barack 
     Obama continued this effort when he recommended funding in 
     his fiscal year 2010 budget for the implementation of this 
     strategy through Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. The GLRI 
     is an innovative, action-oriented approach targeting the 
     region's biggest environmental problems like invasive 
     species, legacy contaminants, habitat loss, and polluted 
     runoff from farms and cities. It allows the Environmental 
     Protection Agency to enter into interagency agreements with 
     other federal agencies to utilize their existing competitive 
     grant programs allowing the region to quickly and effectively 
     undertake restoration work throughout the Great Lakes basin.
       Because of this coordinated effort between federal agencies 
     and non-federal stakeholders, we are seeing tremendous 
     results. Since 2010, three U.S. Areas of Concern (Presque 
     Isle Bay, PA; Deer Lake, MI; White Lake, MI) have been 
     cleaned up and taken off the list of contaminated sites. 
     Before the GLRI, only one site had been delisted since 1987 
     (Oswego River, NY). The management actions necessary for 
     delisting the Sheboygan River (WI), Waukegan Harbor (IL), and 
     Ashtabula River (OH) AOCs have also been completed. The GLRI 
     has accelerated the cleanup of regional toxic sites. Between 
     2010 through 2013, the GLRI removed 42 impairments--from 
     drinking water restrictions to swimming advisories--from 17 
     contaminated sites. The number of so-called ``beneficial use 
     impairments'' that have been removed across the region has 
     quadrupled under the GLRI. In fact, more impairments have 
     been removed since the GLRI began in 2010 than in the 
     preceding 22 years.
       In addition, from 2004 to 2009, the Great Lakes region was 
     the only area in the country to show a gain in wetland 
     acreage. Now the GLRI is building on that foundation with a 
     goal to restore one million acres in the basin. So far, the 
     Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, Natural 
     Resources Conservation Service, and National Oceanic and 
     Atmospheric Administration (among others) restored, 
     protected, or enhanced over 115,000 acres of wetlands and 
     other habitat. More than 1,900 river miles were cleared of 
     over 250 barriers resulting in fish swimming into stretches 
     of river where they had been absent for decades. Based on 
     U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service monitoring, GLRI-sponsored 
     actions are increasing self-sustaining populations of native 
     species important to the Great Lakes, like lake sturgeon--as 
     well as supporting the region's multi-billion dollar outdoor 
     recreation economy. For example, efforts in the Saginaw River 
     watershed have contributed to the now self-sustaining walleye 
     population in Saginaw Bay, MI.
       However, there is still much work that needs to be done. 
     Aging sewers, invasive species, and toxic pollutants are just 
     a few of the pervasive threats that impact the region, 
     endangering human and wildlife health, lowering property 
     values, and hurting the region's economy. Without support 
     restoration efforts will slow allowing problems to get worse 
     and more expensive to solve. Ultimately, reducing investment 
     in the Great Lakes won't save money--it will cost the nation 
     more. As the source of drinking water for 30 million people, 
     the nation cannot afford to stop protecting and restoring the 
     Great Lakes.
       We hope you will vote for the Great Lakes Restoration 
     Initiative Act of 2014. This bill is important to ensure 
     accountability, transparency, and results. It sets a 
     permanent programmatic stage from which the GLRI can continue 
     to succeed.
       If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to have 
     your staff contact Chad Lord, our coalition's policy 
     Lynn McClure,
     KriSty Meyer,
     Nicole Barker,
  Mr. GIBBS. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from Ohio 
(Mr. Joyce), the sponsor of the bill.
  Mr. JOYCE. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to offer my full support for 
H.R. 5764, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Act of 2014. The 
reason is simple, Mr. Speaker: the Great Lakes are a national and 
economic treasure in the U.S., which contains one-fifth of the world's 
freshwater supply.
  The GLRI is the most important, significant, and productive effort to 
date to protect these five lakes that provide drinking water and jobs 
for millions of people. It is crucial that the GLRI be formally 
authorized at $300 million for the next 5 years to ensure that the 
great work already done is not lost.

                              {time}  1430

  This does not add any new spending and will continue to make sure 
necessary resources are available.
  GLRI is an action-oriented, results-driven initiative targeting the 
most significant problems within the basin, including invasive species 
like Asian carp, toxins and contaminated sediment, nonpoint source 
pollution, and habitat and wildlife protection and restoration.
  The programs are working, and the GLRI will ensure we have healthy 
Great Lakes, while boosting the economies in this vast region.
  The Great Lakes are one of the jewels of the United States. When I 
talk about the Great Lakes to people who are not from the region, I 
make sure to point out their benefits are twofold: economic and 
  Let me give you a couple of statistics that will illustrate how 
important it is that we make this critical investment.
  Six quadrillion. We are not talking about a little freshwater here. 
There are six quadrillion gallons of water in the Great Lakes basin. 
Let's let that number soak in.
  $62 billion. The Great Lakes basin supports a diverse range of 
industries and small businesses, and that is how much is generated by 
wages in the industry in the Great Lakes region.
  Thirty million. That is the number of people who live within the 
Great Lakes basin and rely on them for safe drinking water, 
transportation, and recreation.
  $14 million. That is how much money in GLRI funds that was spent to 
clean up the Ashtabula River, in the heart of my district. Because 
these programs are working, I was able to see the Ashtabula River taken 
off the EPA's designated list of places that are ``areas of concern'' a 
couple of months ago. That is a really big deal for northeast Ohio.
  1.5 million. That is how many jobs are directly related to the Great 
  3,500. That is how many diverse species of plant and wildlife call 
the Great Lakes home.
  Finally, the last and most telling statistic for you today is the 
number three. Three is the number of days that residents of Toledo in 
my home State of Ohio were unable to drink the water in their homes 
because of the harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie. The water

[[Page H8895]]

in Lake Erie was literally green. That is unacceptable.
  This is a clear reason why we need to pass this bill and authorize 
GLRI--with bipartisan support--because no American should ever be 
afraid to drink the tap water in their own home.
  Supporting this bill will lock in the programs that work to ensure 
our Nation's largest bodies of freshwater are protected and will 
continue to be protected in the future.
  Before I close, I want to thank Chairman Shuster, as well as my 
colleague and dear friend from Ohio, Representative Gibbs, and the 
Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for their help on this 
bill. We have spent a lot of time working on this issue, and I am very 
grateful for their assistance.
  I would also like to thank Majority Leader McCarthy for scheduling 
this important bill for floor consideration.
  I am very excited the GLRI enjoys so much bipartisan support from 
Great Lakes Members here in Congress. When we make these investments in 
our Great Lakes, results are produced for our constituents, the 
environment, and businesses throughout the vast region.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The time of the gentleman has expired.
  Mr. GIBBS. Mr. Speaker, I yield the gentleman an additional 1 minute.
  Mr. JOYCE. It is critical we formally authorize GLRI so that people 
who live in Toledo or Mentor or Conneaut in my district don't have to 
worry about days ahead without fresh drinking water.
  Mr. BISHOP of New York. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the 
gentlewoman from Ohio (Ms. Kaptur), who is a cosponsor of the bill.
  Ms. KAPTUR. Mr. Speaker, I thank the ranking member Mr. Bishop for 
yielding and thank the chairman Mr. Gibbs, and, obviously, my colleague 
Mr. Joyce, who just spoke.
  I rise in support strong support of H.R. 5764.
  Since the creation of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, our 
Nation has made great strides in reviving and protecting our Nation's 
greatest freshwater treasure, our Great Lakes.
  Still, despite progress, this past summer presented a stark reminder 
of the unfinished challenge, as a toxic algal bloom shut off the fresh 
drinking water to over half a million people and businesses in Ohio and 
Michigan for 3 days across Lake Erie's western basin, the largest 
watershed in the entire Great Lakes.
  The public, though shocked, was orderly and beneficent. We didn't 
have riots or civil disorder.
  During that 3-day crisis, astoundingly, we learned communities along 
the lake were not equipped locally to test the water so vital to their 
own survival. Two precious days were wasted sending and resending vials 
and samples 5 hours away to EPA labs, and then back and then back 
again. This simply is unacceptable. Proper testing equipment on Lake 
Erie is fundamental, fundamental to a response time commensurate with 
the challenge that remains before us.
  The Lake Erie community needs its own water testing equipment and 
certified lab. Already local universities and health departments have 
been assembling key components of necessary equipment for a certified 
lab. It is incumbent upon the GLRI to help us find a way to provide the 
remaining $147,000--not million--$147,000 we have to deliver.
  To date, the lack of response from our Federal agencies is 
astounding. Lake Erie's water quality is an emergency due to the toxic 
algal blooms.
  When we see Federal agencies diverting hundreds of millions of 
dollars abroad to dams in Afghanistan to deliver freshwater, yet 
somehow our own EPA can't identify funds to protect the American people 
who live along Lake Erie and Lake Michigan and draw their life source 
from it, I stand aghast.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The time of the gentlewoman has expired.
  Mr. BISHOP of New York. Mr. Speaker, I yield the gentlewoman another 
1\1/2\ minutes.
  Ms. KAPTUR. When our water crisis occurred, the U.S. EPA didn't even 
show up or have personnel on the ground. I asked, ``Where is Homeland 
Security funding to help during the crisis and after?'' No show. As far 
as I am concerned, they are asleep at the wheel. Wake up.
  As we prepare for a new spring thaw and the increasing rains that 
will come, feeding the algal blooms, the GLRI presents the hope that I 
still have that a solution can be found to counter the agency dithering 
that our region has experienced throughout this harrowing environmental 
  Surely, America can do better. I really think the chairman Mr. Gibbs, 
from the State of Ohio, and my dear colleague Mr. Joyce, from the State 
of Ohio, they live at the other end of the lake, but they get the 
problem. God bless you. And I thank the ranking member, Mr. Bishop from 
the east coast, who understands how important freshwater is to sustain 
life in this country. It shouldn't be this hard.
  Thank you so very much for this bill. I rise in strong support.
  Mr. GIBBS. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from 
Pennsylvania (Mr. Kelly).
  Mr. KELLY of Pennsylvania. Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the 
gentleman from Ohio, but I would also like to thank a lady and a 
Member, whom I have begun to call our ``lady of our lakes.'' Ms. 
Kaptur, thank you so much for speaking out the way you do about the 
Great Lakes, and also Mr. Joyce, a very good colleague and a friend, 
because we all understand what it is that makes the Great Lakes great. 
I think that is the whole point of what we are talking about. This is a 
gift from God.
  Now, you have heard Mr. Joyce talk about some of the statistics. But 
when you think about it, if you just close your eyes for 1 minute and 
visualize in your mind's eye the continental United States, the land 
mass. The volume of freshwater contained in our Great Lakes would cover 
that land mass by 9\1/2\ 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 in this. But do you know who I want to thank 
more than anybody else? 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. Why would 
we have a situation where we can't imagine that we would fund the Great 
Lakes Restoration Initiative? It just doesn't make sense.
  One-fifth of the world's freshwater, not one-fifth of Pennsylvania, 
not one-fifth of the United States, not one-fifth of North America, but 
one-fifth of the world's freshwater resides in our Great Lakes. I would 
suggest to people that talk about energy, you can go a lot longer 
without oil than you can without drinking water. We have an opportunity 
to do something that just makes sense to each and every one of us. We 
can get this done.
  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.
  I thank both gentlemen from Ohio, the lady from Ohio, and everybody 
else who was involved in this. I especially want to do a shout-out to a 
young man who works in the Northeast-Midwest Coalition, a guy by the 
name of Sam Breene, who lives and breathes the lake's initiatives. I 
want to thank him for his hard work, and I want to thank everybody 
involved in getting this taken care of.
  Mr. BISHOP of New York. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the 
gentleman from Minnesota (Mr. Nolan), who is a member of the Committee 
on Transportation and Infrastructure and a cosponsor of the bill.
  (Mr. NOLAN asked and was given permission to revise and extend his 
  Mr. NOLAN. Mr. Speaker, Members of the House, my district includes 
Duluth, Minnesota, the headwaters of the Great Lakes, and, of course, 
the magnificent North Shore. I encourage you all to come and visit the 
first chance you get.
  I, too, rise in strong support of this important bipartisan Great 
Lakes Restoration Initiative, and I, too, would be remiss if I didn't 
compliment our chairman, Mr. Gibbs, and our ranking

[[Page H8896]]

member, Mr. Bishop, for bringing this legislation forward, and, of 
course, our chief sponsor of the legislation, David Joyce, our good 
Republican friend. Thank you for your leadership in convincing the 
Office of the President and our budget operatives around here that in 
this particular case we need a little bit more than what they wanted or 
  I would also remind my colleagues that this is not just about 
preservation; this is about taking responsibility for some of the 
neglect out of past. As I can tell you, back in Duluth, there was a 
time when we had to haul drinking water in for the citizens of Duluth 
because the water out of Lake Superior wasn't drinkable. I remember a 
time when the Great Lakes were so polluted they were catching on fire 
in some places because of neglect. So in many respects we are stepping 
up and we are assuming responsibility for neglect in the past.
  I don't mind telling you how important it has been to us up in the 
Lake Superior area. We have had over 100 projects funded over the years 
accomplishing so many things: combating invasive species, mitigating 
pollution of the past, identifying toxins that represent a threat to 
the basin and our public health and our public safety, protecting wild 
rice--I am an old wild rice picker; you can't have enough good native 
wild rice--and protecting wildlife in general. What a difference these 
projects have made.
  Last, but not least, I would be remiss if I didn't thank our 
Appropriations Committee members--Marcy Kaptur and Betty McCollum, in 
particular--for your stepping up in your leadership in this.
  But there is still so much more to be done. That is why I stand here 
today and strongly urge my colleagues to give their full support to 
this important legislation.
  Mr. GIBBS. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentlewoman from 
Michigan (Mrs. Miller).
  Mrs. MILLER of Michigan. Mr. Speaker, certainly, protecting and 
preserving the Great Lakes has always been a principal advocacy of mine 
through my entire tenure in public office and even before I came into 
public office. I actually grew up on the Great Lakes. My family was in 
the marina business. So the lakes were more than just a source of 
recreation for us. They put food on the table in our family. Like so 
many from the region, the Great Lakes are a proud part of our identity. 
We have heard from so many of the various States in the Great Lakes 
basin today the passion that we all have for these magnificent, 
magnificent Great Lakes.
  As has been said, they generate billions of dollars each and every 
year through fishing, through the shipping industry, and recreational 
activities as well. They are 20 percent of the freshwater drinking 
supply on the entire planet, quite frankly.
  Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, we have not been the best stewards of 
these magnificent lakes, and we do owe it to future generations to help 
assure that they are protected and that they are preserved. One great 
way to do this for the Great Lakes is through this continued funding 
and support of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative that we are 
debating here on the floor today.
  Over the years, Mr. Speaker, I have seen firsthand the impact the 
GLRI is having on our lakes. From dredging to beach and shoreline 
restoration to fighting against invasive species, these projects are 
critical to protecting and restoring the Great Lakes ecosystems.

                              {time}  1445

  Actually, in October, I was at a place called Harsens Island in my 
district where I saw an effort underway to control phragmites, which is 
sort of an odd name. It is a huge, invasive plant that has been 
actually choking wetlands throughout the Great Lakes Basin, but funding 
through this program is eradicating them and letting Mother Nature 
breathe again.
  Along the shoreline of the St. Clair River, GLRI funded the 
restoration of natural habitats, improved stormwater drainage, and 
improved water quality, but there is so much more to do. For example, 
the Clinton River, which flows through a very major metropolitan area 
in southeast Michigan, is in need of similar restoration projects.
  We also need to look at ways that can better detect toxins in our 
waterways with real-time water quality monitoring systems, some of 
which we have in my area as it comes through Lake Huron, the St. Clair 
River, into Lake St. Clair, and down the Detroit River. It is not 
happening in Lake Erie, and it has to be part of the notification 
protocol there as well. We also are having some of these green-blue 
algae blooms in our area.
  As was mentioned, these are a gift from God. God gave us these 
magnificent lakes that have provided us with so much, but we do need to 
be better stewards of them, and quite frankly, we have a lot of making 
up to do to Mother Nature.
  Mr. Speaker, we can start that certainly today by strongly supporting 
H.R. 5764, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Act. I certainly rise 
in strong support of this bill from the gentleman from Ohio (Mr. 
Joyce), and I urge all of my colleagues to support it as well.
  Mr. BISHOP of New York. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I 
may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, I urge passage of this legislation. I think it is good, 
solid bipartisan legislation that is necessary, and I yield back the 
balance of my time.
  Mr. GIBBS. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, I would like to take a moment to recognize today that we 
lose some institutional knowledge at the Transportation and 
Infrastructure Committee, specifically the Water Resources and 
Environment Subcommittee. Today is the last hurrah on the floor as we 
lose our longtime staff director, John Anderson, to the outside world.
  John is originally from Charlotte, North Carolina. He joined the 
Memphis District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in early 1970 as a 
biologist. Later, he moved on to the Savannah District and finally to 
the Army Corps of Engineers headquarters here in Washington, D.C.
  John joined the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure in 
1999 on detail from the Corps, and he never left. In 2005, he was 
promoted to staff director of the Subcommittee on Water Resources and 
  In John's more than 40 years of service to the Nation, he has in some 
fashion, either at the Corps level or here in Congress, been part of 
every single WRDA law since 1990. He is widely respected in the world 
of transportation and infrastructure policy and is a renowned expert in 
the Nation's water resources policy.
  We wish John the best in his departure from Congress. He and his 
wife, Guiomar, are the proud parents of three boys: John Alexander, 
Patrick, and Richard Anderson. They are also the proud grandparents of 
three Anderson grandchildren.
  It has been a privilege to work with John Anderson in my last 4 years 
as the chairman of the subcommittee. I wish him well and thank him. 
Good luck.
  I also urge support of the bill.
  Mr. BISHOP of New York. Will the gentleman yield?
  Mr. GIBBS. I yield to the gentleman from New York.
  Mr. BISHOP of New York. I, too, want to add a word of both thanks and 
congratulations to John Anderson for his service in the Congress over a 
great many years. I came to see firsthand his skill and dedication when 
we were working so cooperatively together on passing the Water 
Resources Development Act of 2013. His involvement was essential.
  That bill stands as one of the few substantive pieces of bipartisan 
legislation that this Congress has passed, and we were able to get it 
in done in part because of John's efforts.
  I thank you, and I wish you a well-earned retirement.
  Mr. GIBBS. Reclaiming my time, I would also be remiss not to say a 
few words about my good friend, Mr. Bishop from Long Island, New York. 
It has been a privilege having you serve as my ranking member on the 
subcommittee for the last 4 years. I wish you well in your endeavors in 
the future.
  Mr. BISHOP of New York. I appreciate that very much.
  Mr. GIBBS. Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.

[[Page H8897]]

  Mr. LEVIN. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of the Great Lakes 
Restoration Initiative Act, and I urge all my colleagues to join me in 
voting for this needed legislation.
  In Michigan, we're blessed to be surrounded by the Great Lakes. In so 
many ways, the Lakes define our state, and our region, as well. For 
many years, though, we did not treat them as if they were very great. 
For the better part of a century, the Lakes and their tributaries were 
polluted to the point that they were dying.
  A century of environmental harm cannot be undone overnight, but we've 
made considerable progress. That's where the Great Lakes Restoration 
Initiative comes in. Through the GLRI, we are finally addressing 
longstanding problems, such as toxic hotspots, invasive species like 
the Asian carp, habitat restoration, and runoff pollution.
  The GLRI was created by the Obama Administration and, since 2010, 
Congress has wisely funded it. Now it is time for Congress to take the 
next step and formally authorize this vital program. Congress must 
remain a full partner in the restoration effort in the Great Lakes, and 
authorizing GLRI is the best way to do that.
  I wish to acknowledge the efforts of my colleagues who have worked so 
hard to support GLRI over the last five years, especially 
Representative Joyce, Louise Slaughter, and my good friend John 
Dingell. I would also like to underscore the longstanding efforts of 
Senator Carl Levin and his staff in the area of Great Lakes 
  As we continue to make meaningful progress on restoration of the 
Great Lakes, this will be a hopeful sign that other difficult 
environmental redemptions are also achievable. Let us move forward 
together today by passing the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Act.
  Ms. SLAUGHTER. Mr. Speaker, as a co-Chair of the House Great Lakes 
Task Force, I rise in strong support of H.R. 5764, The Great Lakes 
Restoration Initiative Act.
  This bipartisan legislation authorizes the popular Great Lakes 
Restoration Initiative. This program is critical to restoring and 
protecting the Great Lakes, which hold over 20 percent of the world's 
surface freshwater and are the source of drinking water, jobs, and 
recreation for millions of Americans.
  I have represented districts that span the southern coast of Lake 
Ontario all the way to the City of Buffalo on Lake Erie and I know 
first hand the special bond the people of the Great Lakes basin share 
with these lakes. These magnificent bodies of water are truly unique 
and we must do all that we can to protect these national treasures for 
future generations. I urge my colleagues to support the bill.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on the motion offered by the 
gentleman from Ohio (Mr. Gibbs) that the House suspend the rules and 
pass the bill, H.R. 5764.
  The question was taken; and (two-thirds being in the affirmative) the 
rules were suspended and the bill was passed.
  A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.