Senators Concerned About Reported Cuts to Great Lakes Restoration

U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly, along with a bipartisan group of senators, sent a letter to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt expressing concern about reports that the Trump Administration’s 2018 budget request will include a 97 percent cut to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

The senators wrote, in part: “As members of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force, we are writing to express our great concern about reports that the Environmental Protection Agency’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 budget might include drastic cuts to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative program, which enjoys bipartisan and bicameral support.”

“It is our understanding that an initial budget blueprint only included $10 million for the Initiative, which if accurate, would be 97 percent below the $300 million Congress appropriated in FY 2016 and in previous fiscal years.”

“The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is the largest federal investment in the Great Lakes’ health, ecosystem, and water quality. Since its inception in 2010, $1.6 billion has been used to fund 3,068 projects to combat the greatest threats to the Great Lakes, including invasive species, harmful algal blooms and loss of fish and wildlife habitats,”

“In targeting Areas of Concern, the program has successfully addressed problems that directly impact the public health and safety including beach closings; restrictions on fish and wildlife consumption; dredging restrictions; and problems with drinking water taste, odor and consumption,” the letter stated.

Donnelly joined Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Rob Portman (R-OH), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Al Franken (D-MN), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Bob Casey (D-PA), Gary Peters (D-MI) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) in sending the letter.