Many advocates for the Great Lakes are in Washington, D.C., this week to push back against President Trump's proposal to slash funding for the region. They want Congress to continue its bipartisan support on issues such as cleaning up pollution and protecting drinking water.
Trump's 2019 budget plan calls for cutting the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative from $300 million to $30 million, and making other cuts in programs -- like Sea Grant -- that are important to the region. Administration officials say states and localities should take more responsibility for such spending.
Last year, Trump proposed eliminating the initiative entirely, but Congress stepped in to restore funding. Advocates hope that happens again, and many officials have already pledged their support.
Organizations lobbying on Capitol Hill this week include the Great Lakes Commission, the Healing Our Water-Great Lakes Coalition and a group of mayors called the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative.
Their joint agenda touches on important issues such as fully funding the restoration initiative, maintaining regulatory agencies, battling invasive species and investing in water treatment plants.
"These joint priorities show how essential the Great Lakes are to both our region’s unique ecosystem and $5 trillion economy,” John Linc Stine, chair of the Great Lakes Commission, said in a prepared statement.
Todd Ambs, campaign director for the 150-member Healing Our Waters coalition, added, “We’re asking Congress to not let up now: Federal Great Lakes restoration investments have been producing results for our environment and economy—but serious threats remain. Until drinking water restrictions, fish consumption advisories, beach closures, and toxic hotspots are a thing of the past, our work is not done."