Great Lakes News

Great Lakes News

Proposed Budget Cuts Threaten Great Lakes


Proposed cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Trump Administration has many Great Lakes environmentalists and legislators concerned. Details leaked and obtained by the National Association for Clean Air Agencies show that the Trump Administration’s initial 2018 budget proposal would dramatically slash EPA funding, including a 97 percent cut to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) of $300 million to just $10 million. Of the list of EPA cuts, the GLRI reduction is the largest dollar amount.

“If true, the level of cuts being discussed would be devastating. Federal Great Lakes restoration investments are producing results across the region, but serious threats remain. These cuts will essentially stop restoration efforts in their tracks, in states like Michigan, Wisconsin and Ohio,” says Chad Lord, policy director for the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition in a statement. “Thirty million people depend on the Great Lakes for their drinking water, jobs, and way of life. Absent a strong course correction by the Trump Administration, we will work with Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. Congress to maintain funding at current levels to ensure that Great Lakes restoration efforts remain a top national priority.”

The GLRI is a diverse program that funds state and local projects to combat invasive species (such as Asian carp), restores wildlife habitats and cleans up polluted watersheds across the Great Lakes region. Projects funded by the GLRI historically have seen success: White Lake in Muskegon County and Deer Lake in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula were taken off the Great Lakes Areas of Concern toxic hotspot list in 2014 after undergoing GLRI watershed restoration efforts. GLRI has also funded the dredging of river bottoms to remove mercury pollution and to improve fish habitat at Detroit’s Belle Isle. GLRI has taken on more than 300 projects since its inception under President George W. Bush's administration.

The proposed cuts have been met with backlash from Congressmen on both sides of the aisle, environmental groups and Great Lakes mayors. Traditionally the program has seen bipartisan support, with Congress authorizing $300 million per year through 2021 just in December. The GLRI is just one of many proposed EPA cuts. Others include a $13 million reduction in compliance monitoring, which is how the EPA ensures drinking water standards are met.

The Trump Administration is expected to release its finalized budget the week of March 13.

To read more on EPA cuts and the potential effects on the Great Lakes, check out:

[Photo via NOAA/Flickr]

South Shore JUN17