DETROIT – President Donald Trump wants to eliminate federal support of a program that addresses the Great Lakes' most pressing environmental threats.
Trump's 2018 budget released Thursday would remove all funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which has received strong support from members of Congress in both parties since President Barack Obama established it in 2009.
U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, D, MI-05, released a statement on the proposed elimination:
The President’s budget is incredibly short-sighted and reckless. In addition to deep cuts to medical research, job training, affordable housing programs and heating assistance for the poor, the President wants to eliminate all funding to protect the Great Lakes. With his budget, the President is essentially saying our way of life in Michigan doesn’t matter.
“Such irresponsible cuts to Great Lakes protection efforts will expose our freshwater to major threats, including invasive species like Asian carp and pollution. These are very real threats not only to our environment, but also our economy—the Great Lakes generate billions in annual economic activity and support 1.5 million good-paying jobs in the tourism, boating and fishing industries.
“There’s a sad irony in the President proposing to eliminate Great Lakes protection efforts today on Great Lakes Day. This morning, like in years past, Democratic and Republican Members of Congress came together with Great Lakes advocates to discuss our shared interests in protecting the world’s largest freshwater supply. Protecting the Great Lakes has never been a partisan issue. Congress ultimately sets the nation’s budget and I will fight these reckless cuts in every way that I can.”
The program has pumped more than $2.2 billion into the eight-state region for projects that have removed toxic wastes from industrial harbors, fought invasive species such as Asian carp, restored wildlife habitat and supported efforts to prevent harmful algal blooms.
The initiative has generally received about $300 million a year. Congress voted last year to authorize the program for five more years.
A Trump campaign representative said last fall the Republican nominee supported the program.