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President Trump proposes increase in Great Lakes funding, critics point to cuts to EPA

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

President Donald Trump is proposing a slight increase in funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative(GLRI). 

It’s a change in policy for an administration that tried to slash funding in the past. The president had proposed cutting the GLRI’s budget by 90%. But Congressreinstatedthe funding. 

The president’s budget proposal calls for spending $320 million on projects to clean up the Great Lakes in Fiscal Year 2021.   

The president’s supporters are glad to see the money in his proposed budget.

“In this budget the President demonstrated his commitment to Michigan and the entire Great Lakes region by fully funding the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative,” says Representative Bill Huizenga (R-Zeeland), Co-Chair of the House Great Lakes Task Force. Having the President engage on this critical issue improves the chances for bipartisan legislation to be signed into law that will protect and strengthen the Great Lakes."  

But the president’s critics are concerned that cuts in other parts of his budget will undermine the money earmarked for the Great Lakes.

“The White House has once again proposed to slash EPA resources: the agency responsible for administrating the GLRI, by 26%,” says Senator Gary Peters (D-MI). 

Created in 2010, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has received $300 million annually from the federal government to fund projects cleaning up sites across the region. 

The U.S. House of Representatives recently approved bipartisan legislationwhich would increase the annual federal appropriation incrementally over a five year period to $475 million.  

Still, environmentalists remain concerned about the future of the GLRI and other similar federal programs.  

“In each of his budgets, the President has proposed significant cuts to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and others charged with enforcing environmental regulations and implementing programs like the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative,” says Molly Flanagan, with the Alliance for the Great Lakes. “While we fully support funding for the GLRI, money alone won’t protect the Great Lakes.”

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.