Great Lakes worth protecting in compromise budget

It appears likely that funding will be restored to an environmental spending bill that has enjoyed bi-partisan support since President George Bush initially backed it.

According to a story from The Associated Press, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is a program dealing with some of the lakes’ most serious environmental problems such as invasive species, loss of wetlands and other wildlife habitat, toxic pollution and runoff that causes algae blooms.

The effort has received about $300 million annually since funding was first initiated in 2010. But at least one proposal last year during the big budget battles in Washington, D.C., would have reduced funding to about $60 million, an 80-percent reduction that proponents said would have rendered the program all but ineffective.

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle protested when the House Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Subcommittee proposed the deep cut in July, AP reported

It was a show of bipartisan unity that starkly contrasted with the ideological warfare that caused a partial government shutdown in October, said AP.

Now, in the federal budget compromise that is gaining support this week, funding has been restored in a move, we believe, that’s well founded.

The budget is a long way from being finalized and anything is still possible. That said, key Democrats and Republicans appear ready to line up behind the bill that puts the money back in.

Given the economic importance of the Great Lakes, it’s a common sense approach we support.