When Ohio congressmen learned in May that President Trump’s 2018 budget called for eliminating millions in funding for Great Lakes restoration, they responded appropriately.
Senators Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown, along with Rep. Bob Latta, among many others, put up red flags in protest. Their reaction was justified, considering the regional importance of the Great Lakes and magnitude of the funding cut.
We would have been disappointed had they hesitated.
The administration’s budget would all but wipe out funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. The program, started under President Barack Obama in 2010, pays for projects such as removing toxic pollution from harbors and river mouths, restoring wetlands, fighting invasive species and preventing harmful algae outbreaks.
Over seven years, $2.2 billion has been provided to improve and protect the lakes. While much has been done, the need continues.
The Great Lakes, and Lake Erie in particular, are in a fragile position environmentally. Efforts are underway to clean up pollution hot spots, restore coast lines, and to prevent the kind of algae blooms that threaten municipal drinking water systems and dampen tourism each summer.
At the same time, scientists are still fighting to ward off invasive species, including the Asian carp, which would disrupt the aquatic balance of the lakes if they become established.
All those projects take money.
Fortunately, Portman, Brown and Latta consider the issue a priority.
On Wednesday, a House appropriations subcommittee began considering a provision that includes $300 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative in the annual Interior appropriations bill. That’s the same amount that would be cut under Trump’s budget.
While far from a done deal, the initiative has had widespread bipartisan support in the eight states adjoining the Great Lakes. There’s no reason to believe the bill would get any less.
In the past, Congress has pushed back against Great Lakes cuts, but with a new administration it may take a greater effort to maintain full funding this time around.
For Ohio’s sake and other states which depend on the Great Lakes, we urge Portman, Brown and Latta and other lawmakers to keep up the fight.
- The Docket
- Member Service