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President Obama’s proposal to expand the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative beyond its current FY14 time frame was announced today while representatives of the Alliance and other invited Great Lakes leaders were in town for a briefing with senior White House officials.Congress and the president have provided more than $1 billion for the GLRI since it first made history in 2009 as the largest commitment to Great Lakes restoration in a U.S. presidential budget. The sweeping initiative funds are designated to curb the influx of invasive species, clean beaches, remove toxic pollution and restore fish and wildlife habitat.The announcement came as some 80 of the Great Lakes region’s environmental, recreation, business and academic leaders met with senior White House officials today to discuss clean water, environmental and economic priorities in the region. Participants were invited to the briefing at the Executive Office Building, co-hosted by the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and the Office of Public Engagement, during Great Lakes Day events in Washington this week. "I was pleased and inspired to see and hear the highest levels of the Obama administration focused on restoring the Great Lakes in Washington this week, says Joel Brammeier, president and CEO of the Alliance for the Great Lakes. "A healthy Great Lakes is a resource that everyone in the region can build on as we revitalize both our environment and economy. I look forward to continuing this collaborative work to restore the lakes and prevent threats from undermining our strong record of success.” Economic recovery and environmental restoration were significant themes in the day’s discussion, which connected the goals of reducing nutrient pollution, cleaning up beaches and removing invasive species, to more tourism dollars for local communities and small businesses. The briefing included opening remarks from U.S. Secretary of Commerce John Bryson about business development and jobs in the Great Lakes region, and a panel discussion with USDA Deputy Under Secretary Ann Mills, DOI Deputy Secretary David Hayes, and Cameron Davis, EPA senior advisor to the Administrator for Great Lakes.“The administration made unprecedented investments in restoring the Great Lakes and made it a priority to work with state, city, environmental, academic and business leaders toward lasting solutions,” said Nancy Sutley, chairwoman of the White House CEQ. “Today’s gathering at the White House is another important step in advancing the partnership between federal agencies and community leaders that has fostered success for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and its goal of a healthy environment and a thriving economy for all Americans.”
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