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Environmental Advocates: Trump Budget Would Harm Great Lakes

Pixabay.com Wokandapix

MADISON, Wis. -- One step forward, three steps back. That's how an environmental group describes the Trump administration's budget proposal and how it affects clean drinking water and the Great Lakes.

Trump's  plan, released this week, maintains current funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, and Laura Rubin, director of Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition, says that's the good news. But she says underneath that is a host of spending reductions that would undermine programs such as that one. "Programs on the chopping block include those that support science and research, environmental justice issues, Asian carp management, to name a few," Rubin states.

The plan also would cut 27% of funding for the Environmental Protection Agency, which is in charge of efforts to protect the Great Lakes. Rubin says another concern is proposed cuts to programs that help communities pay for sewer upgrades and repairs and drinking water infrastructure.

Meanwhile, some Republican lawmakers are hailing the plan to maintain funding levels for the Great Lakes restoration program, saying it's critical to preserving and protecting them. As for the proposed funding cuts, Chad Lord, policy director of Healing Our Waters, says his organization will do all it can to push Congress to block them. "The millions of people in the Great Lakes region deserve a budget that follows through on the government's commitment to provide safe, clean and affordable water," Lord stresses. "And we look forward to working with bipartisan leaders in Congress to ensure that those commitments are fulfilled."

Lord says his group will be in Washington next month with scores of advocates to engage with lawmakers about keeping these programs off the chopping block. In previous budgets, the president did propose cuts to the Great Lakes restoration program, but those efforts were thwarted by Congress

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