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Is the Federal Budget Landing the Great Lakes in “Deep Water”?

Based on an article by Sandy Smith in EHS Today – March 17, 2017

Is the Federal Budget Landing the Great Lakes in “Deep Water”?

Lake Erie with buildings of Cleveland in the skyline

President Trump already has signed Executive Orders that reduce the likelihood that additional OSHA or EPA regulations will be promulgated in the foreseeable future and that start the process of rolling back regulations already in place. Eliminating existing regulations takes more time, but it can be done. In addition, regulations that were under development when President Trump took office were frozen by an Executive Order and are unlikely to go anywhere, say experts.

But, hidden among the higher profile proposed cuts is a source of funding which, starting last Summer, committed sizable grant money to reducing the impact of algae bloom, particularly in the western basin of Lake Erie.

President Trump’s proposed budget essentially eliminates the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI), which was authorized for $300 million under the Obama administration but has been reduced to $10 million under the current, proposed budget.

That deep cut has drawn a rebuke from Sen. Rob Portman, a Republican from Ohio, who said: “The Great Lakes are an invaluable resource to Ohio, and the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has been a successful public-private partnership that helps protect both our environment and our economy.”

Portman quoted a recent study, which found that the GLRI’s work generates a total of more than $80 billion in benefits in health, tourism, fishing and recreation. The study also states that GLRI saves communities like Toledo, Ohio $50 million in costs, and increases property values across the region by a total of $12 billion.

“The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has been a critical tool in our efforts to help protect and restore Lake Erie, and when the Obama administration proposed cuts to the program, I helped lead the effort to restore full funding,” said Portman. “I have long championed this program, and I’m committed to continuing to do everything I can to protect and preserve Lake Erie, including preserving this critical program and its funding.”

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