$300M for Great Lakes Program Passes Hurdle in Senate

(U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)(U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

A key federal program responsible for protecting the Great Lakes is one step closer to being fully funded after it was targeted for massive cuts earlier this year in President Donald Trump’s proposed budget.

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The Senate Committee on Appropriations on Monday released its recommended budget for environmental agencies, which included the full $300 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. The program targets the biggest threats to the Great Lakes ecosystem, including invasive species like the Asian carp, industrial contamination, toxic sediment and phosphorus runoff that contributes to harmful algal blooms. 

In March, Trump proposed a budget that would reduce funding for the program by 97 percent, from $300 million to $10 million. The proposal prompted an outcry from environmental groups and public officials across the region.

“These cuts would decimate everything we’re doing to try and protect Lake Michigan and the rest of the Great Lakes from pollution, from climate change, from invasive species,” said Jack Darin, head of the Illinois Sierra Club, following Trump’s proposal. “When you cut the Great Lakes, you cut jobs, our health, and the future of a tremendous asset for our whole region. And, this has always been a bipartisan priority.”

In July, the House Appropriations Committee included $300 million for the program in its budget bill. The Senate committee’s bill is another step forward for the initiative, but it could still face cuts when the full Senate votes on the budget.

Contact Alex Ruppenthal: @arupp [email protected] | (773) 509-5623

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