Trump bud­get tar­gets wa­ter­way cleanup

The Morning Journal (Lorain, OH) - - FRONT PAGE - By John Flesher

For a se­cond year, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump is try­ing to dras­ti­cally re­duce or elim­i­nate fed­eral sup­port of cleanups.

TRA­VERSE CITY, MICH. » For a se­cond con­sec­u­tive year, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump is try­ing to dras­ti­cally re­duce or elim­i­nate fed­eral sup­port of cleanups for iconic U.S. wa­ter­ways in­clud­ing the Great Lakes and Ch­e­sa­peake Bay.

Trump’s pro­posed 2019 bud­get for the En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency re­leased Mon­day would cut fund­ing by 90 per­cent for the Great Lakes Restora­tion Ini­tia­tive — an Obama-era plan for deal­ing with per­va­sive pol­lu­tion in the world’s big­gest sur­face fresh­wa­ter sys­tem — and a sim­i­lar pro­gram for Ch­e­sa­peake Bay, the na­tion’s largest es­tu­ary.

It would re­move all EPA fund­ing of cleanup pro­grams for the Gulf of Mex­ico, Lake Cham­plain, Long Is­land Sound, San Fran­cisco Bay, Puget Sound and South Florida, in­clud­ing the Ever­glades and Keys. The ad­min­is­tra­tion’s EPA spend­ing plan said the agency would “en­cour­age state, tribal and lo­cal en­ti­ties to con­tinue to make progress” in those places.

The ad­min­is­tra­tion sought to zero out spend­ing on the re­gional water ini­tia­tives in its first bud­get a year ago, de­scrib­ing them as “pri­mar­ily lo­cal ef­forts” and con­tend­ing state and lo­cal gov­ern­ments were ca­pa­ble of pay­ing for them.

But Congress de­cided oth­er­wise, il­lus­trat­ing the pop­u­lar­ity of the cleanups among law­mak­ers of both par­ties and vot­ers who want progress on long-stand­ing prob­lems such as toxic al­gae that fouls beaches, in­va­sive species that starve out na­tive fish, and in­dus­trial tox­ins em­bed­ded in river bot­toms.

The Great Lakes pro­gram is the largest, tak­ing in about $300 mil­lion an­nu­ally since it was es­tab­lished in 2010. Trump’s bud­get would give it $30 mil­lion.

Ch­e­sa­peake Bay, which is get­ting nearly $73 mil­lion this year, would re­ceive $7.3 mil­lion.

The other pro­grams re­ceive sig­nif­i­cantly less fed­eral fund­ing.

Sup­port­ers pledged an­other fight to keep them in­tact.

U.S. Sen. Deb­bie Stabenow, a Michi­gan Demo­crat, de­nounced the pro­posed Great Lakes cuts as “ou­tra­geous.” Rep. Bill Huizenga, a Michi­gan Repub­li­can, pledged to seek full fund­ing of the ini­tia­tive, which he said boosts the econ­omy and en­vi­ron­ment of an eight-state re­gion ex­tend­ing from New York to Min­nesota.

“Why the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion would con­tinue to try to slash fund­ing for the world’s most im­por­tant fresh­wa­ter re­source is beyond my com­pre­hen­sion,” said Mike Shriberg, re­gional di­rec­tor for the Na­tional Wildlife Fed­er­a­tion.

The Ch­e­sa­peake Bay pro­gram, which dates to 1983, has ac­cel­er­ated in re­cent years in the wa­ter­shed’s six states and Wash­ing­ton, D.C., with adop­tion of pol­lu­tion re­duc­tion tar­gets. Trump’s bud­get would pro­vide money for water qual­ity mon­i­tor­ing but none for cleanup work, ad­vo­cates said.

“A cut of this mag­ni­tude would se­verely dam­age Bay restora­tion ef­forts, just at a time when we are see­ing sig­nif­i­cant progress,” said William Baker, pres­i­dent of the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay Foun­da­tion.

EPA spokesman Ja­han Wil­cox de­clined com­ment.

As­so­ci­ated Press writer Sarah Rankin in Richmond, Vir­ginia, con­trib­uted to this re­port.


The sun sets over the Mack­inac Bridge and the Mack­inac Straits as seen from Lake Huron in 2002. The bridge is the di­vid­ing line be­tween Lake Michi­gan to the west and Lake Huron to the east. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump is try­ing to dras­ti­cally re­duce or elim­i­nate fed­eral sup­port for cleanups of some iconic U.S. wa­ter­ways.

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