Great Lakes Mayors Shocked By Latest Trump CutMarch 17, 2017 10:35am
The organization representing Great Lakes cities says it’s shocked the Trump Administration now wants to cut all federal funding to the cleanup and restoration of the lakes.
Just last week, the Trump Administration proposed a 97% funding cut, from $300-million a year to just $10-million. Now the proposal calls for state and local governments to pick up the entire tab.
The funding cut is part of a larger effort by U.S. President Donald Trump to cut funding to the Environmental Protection Agency by 31.4%.
The executive director of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, David Ullrich, says it is not realistic to expect lower governments to foot the entire bill.
“The State of Illinois, as an example has not had a budget for a year and a half. All of the States are struggling budgetarily,” he says. “Local governments have been, by far outspending state governments. We did a study back in 2008 that showed that local governments in the U.S. and Canada were spending over $15-billion a year on protection and restoration.”
“The federal government clearly has a responsibility, and it is irresponsible for them to step back from it,” Ullrich says pointing to a study by the Brooking Institute that showed a two-to-one investment on Great Lakes cleanup. “To come back with zero after 97% is like a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.”
Ullrich spent three days in Washington this week speaking with members of Congress and believes the bipartisan Great Lakes Task Force will champion the cause.
“You know it over in the Windsor-Detroit area, Cleveland, Buffalo, Chicago, Milwaukee — the way in which these cities have coming back over the last ten or 20 years — it’s all about the water,” says Ullrich.
Ullrich says there’s a lot at stake if the federal government does not do its part. Over the past eight years, restoration efforts have helped clean up toxic hotspots, better manage polluted stormwater runoff, protect habitats and wildlife and address invasive species like the Asian Carp.
“You’re either moving forward, or you move back,” Ullrich says.
Canadians can do their part too. Ullrich hopes concerned citizens on this side of the border will write, call and email their MPPs and MPs.
“I think that the more this is given visibility on the Canadian side, and the more that elected officials speak out and the public speaks out, that’s the best course of action,” he says. “The more we hear from you, the better.”
The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative is a coalition of 128 cities from the U.S. and Canada representing over 17-million people.