For third time since his inauguration Donald Trump has put the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative in his budgetary crosshairs.
The President's 2019 proposed budget includes massive cuts in funding the GLRI, from $298 million all the way down to $3o million. The Republican-led U.S. House Appropriations Committee last year squelched Trump's attempted cuts for 2018 and fully funded the initiative,
which enjoys wide bipartisan support and which funds water quality oversight, agricultural runoff mitigation, wildlife habitat preservation and more. The health and future of the Great Lakes, the largest collection of freshwater in the world, has never been more important and the GLRI targets long-term solutions for the Great Lakes ecosystem.
The cuts would come from some $3 billion in proposed trims to the EPA's budget.
A selection of responses from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle below:
Dave Joyce, Ohio (R): "Today feels like Groundhog Day as it relates to the Great Lakes funding. No matter the administration - Republican or Democrat - it seems none of them understand how important fresh water and the Great Lakes are to many Americans. Once again, we will gear up in a bipartisan manner, to save the Great Lakes funding."
Sen. Debbie Stabenow, Michigan, co-chair Great Lakes Task Force (D): “I am pretty shocked after the major bipartisan effort that we had, and the push-back was so hard after they zeroed out the money last year.”
Bill Huizenga, Michigan (R): “The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative plays a leading role in preserving and restoring the Great Lakes ecology while strengthening the Great Lakes economy."
Tim Ryan, Ohio (D): "The only function the President's budget proposal serves is to remind us how completely out of whack his priorities are for the American people."
Rob Portman, Ohio (R): “I’ve successfully helped lead the effort to restore full funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative after both Republican and Democratic administrations have proposed cuts to the program, and I will do so again this year. The Great Lakes are an invaluable resource to Ohio, and this initiative has been a successful public-private partnership that helps protect both our environment and our economy. As the world’s largest freshwater body, the Great Lakes provide drinking water for 40 million people, contribute $10 billion in tourism each year, and support hundreds of thousands of jobs across the region. I have long championed this program, and I will continue to do everything I can to protect and preserve Lake Erie and all the Great Lakes, including preserving this critical program and its funding.”
While we're on the topic of the environment and water, Trump's budget would also eliminate all $19 million in funding for conservation efforts at National Heritage Areas. That includes the Ohio and Erie Canalway, as Cleveland.com points out.
If you want to read a whole lot more about how the budget would screw with Ohio's residents, Steve Koff and Sabrina Eaton have a breakdown here.