President Donald Trump’s proposed federal budget for fiscal year 2018 would eliminate federal funding to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, an ongoing program administered via the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency since 2010. Many of Ohio’s elected officials have lent their voices in opposition to the president’s proposal that will directly impact not only Ohio but the seven other states bordering the Great Lakes.
In fiscal year 2016, along with the fiscal year preceding, beginning in 2009 when the GLRI was first approved, $300 million was allocated to the program that has been cleaning up pollution in the five Great Lakes as well as reducing algae. Eight states in total have been reaping the benefits of the removal of toxic wastes in the waterways, efforts to fight the Asian carp and other invasive species, the restoration of habitat for wildlife along with efforts to reduce and/or eliminate toxic algal blooms.
The United States Congress voted in 2016 to continue the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative for another five years. In the president’s budget proposal, it states that instead of federal funding, the president seeks to return that responsibility to the states and local entities so that the EPA can “focus on its highest national priorities.”
Ohio U.S. Senator Rob Portman Seeks Support From EPA’s Scott Pruitt
Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio), who co-chairs the Senate Great Lakes Task Force took the lead in a bipartisan letter to Scott Pruitt, EPA administrator, along with his co-chair Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan) on Friday, March 17, 2017 citing their concerns with the proposed cut in funding to what they feel is a vital program for the largest freshwater body in the world to both sustain what the GLRI has already accomplished and to continue its missions.
Senators Portman and Stabenow reminded Pruitt in their letter that they were pleased with his support of the GLRI during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and hoped they could count on his continued support by fully funding the project in fiscal year 2018 and beyond.
Portman also issued a statement citing a recent study that showed the GLRI’s environmental work has generated about $80 billion in benefits to communities through health, tourism, fishing and recreation.
Ohio U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown Issues Statements Supporting GLRI
Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) has issued a statement in support of funding for the GLRI. On March 16, 2017, Brown released this statement:
“As a kid, I remember seeing how polluted Lake Erie was, and we can’t put an end to our cleanup efforts when we’ve made such progress. My colleagues in the Ohio delegation and I will not stand for a budget that zeros out this critical program.”
Ohio U.S. Representative Marcy Kaptur on GLRI Funding
Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-9th District Ohio) who is a member of the House Appropriations Committee, released a statement about the proposed elimination of funding to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, saying:
“President Trump’s draft budget cedes the future and takes a sledgehammer to some of our nation’s dearest priorities. This proposal won’t improve national security efforts, create jobs or ensure we have clean air and water. President Trump even takes aim at the bipartisan and popular program that is helping to restore our Great Lakes, completely gutting critical funding.”
Ohio Politicians Take to Social Media to Express Their Thoughts on the Potential Loss of Funding to Great lakes Restoration Initiative
Share with your friendsFollow Us