Great Lakes Governors vow to pressure congress to preserve funding

Great Lakes Governors vow to pressure congress to preserve funding
March 17, 2017 Mary Ellen Geist

Disappointment and Resolve from Great Lakes Governors as they react to the Trump Administration’s Proposed Budget Cuts

The Governors of Michigan, Pennsylvania and New York say they will fight to preserve funding for the Great Lakes.

Photo courtesy of the Office of Ohio Governor

Ohio Governor John R. Kasich, courtesy of the Office of Ohio Governor

However, Ohio Governor John Kasich – a former GOP contender for President who ran against Donald Trump – refused to comment on the huge cuts to the EPA and Great Lakes Restoration Initiative in the just-released Trump administration budget.

Though he had no comment on the massive budget cuts, Governor Kasich’s press secretary Emmalee Kalmbach tells Great Lakes Now, “ A great deal of progress has been made in recent years to improve the lake’s condition and bold reforms Ohio has championed under the leadership of Governor Kasich have contributed to that progress. Ohio has spent more than $2.5 billion in the Lake Erie watershed since 2011.”

The Trump Administration Budget, released Thursday, March 16th calls for the elimination of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative which has provided more than 2 billion dollars to fund wetlands restoration, fight algal blooms and the invasion of Asian carp, and helped to improve shorelines for fish habitat as well as for recreation.

The budget also calls for a 30 percent cut in EPA funding to enforce the Clean Water Act, The Clean Air Act, and other federal environmental laws. If the budget is passed by congress, more than 3,000 EPA workers could be laid off – a fifth of the EPA workforce.

Michigan Republican Governor Rick Snyder released this statement to Great Lakes Now: “The Great Lakes funding is very important to Michiganders, therefore we know there is strong support among Michigan’s Congressional delegation and we will work with them to preserve the funding.”

Photo courtesy of Metropolitan Transportation Authority of the State of New York via Wikimedia

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, courtesy of Metropolitan Transportation Authority of the State of New York

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s reaction? “The Administration’s proposed budget is dangerous, reckless, and contemptuous of American values. It should be rejected by Congress out of hand. The proposal undermines policies and positions that have been cherished and defended by men and women of both parties, some for more than a century. It leaves behind the most vulnerable among us, and puts our environment, our infrastructure, and our future at risk.

Governor Coumo, a Democrat, says the Trump Administration’s proposed budget “entirely defunds the Clean Power Plan and guts funding for the EPA, withdrawing support that is essential to protecting New York’s clean water and environmental resources. At the same time, the proposal cuts vital funds to our farmers and rural communities and hampers our ability to respond to extreme weather events that have wreaked destruction across New York.”

Minnesota’s Democratic Governor Mark Dayton was unavailable for comment but Commissioner John Linc Stine with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency issued this statement to Great Lakes Now: “We’re pretty shocked by the scale of the cuts they’re proposing,” He says, “Cuts like these will absolutely have harmful effects on the environment and human health and will wreak havoc with States across the nation. We’re already in communication with our Congressional delegation to make sure they understand how the Trump budget would impact Minnesota. We’ve been asked to tighten our belts before,” Stine said “but a 30% reduction is something altogether different. To cut a budget like that, without an obvious plan, is like swinging a big ax without caring about what you hit.”

Photo courtesy of Minnesota.gov

Commissioner John Linc Stine, courtesy of Minnesota.gov

Minnesota Commissioner Stine goes on to say, “The administration proposes the elimination of Great Lakes pollution clean-up funding, saying ‘they’re returning the responsibility of funding local environmental efforts to State and local entities, allowing EPA to focus on its highest national priorities.’   Let’s think about that statement.”

Commissioner Stine says, “President Trump says the Great Lakes are not a national priority. With 20% of the world’s fresh water in the Great Lakes, what could be a higher national priority?”

Pennsylvania’s Governor, Democrat Tom Wolf, released a statement to Great Lakes Now that says the budget is “unacceptable”. He says, “Many communities will be harmed by indiscriminate cuts to housing programs, agriculture investments, and efforts to keep our land and water safe.” Governor Wolf is asking Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation “to carefully review the devastating cuts in this proposal and help stop them.” He says the proposed cuts will harm communities all across Pennsylvania.

Photo courtesy of PA.gov

Department of Environmental Protection Acting Secretary McDonnell, courtesy of PA.gov

In a letter to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Acting Secretary Patrick McDonnell wrote, “These budget cuts do not reduce any of the responsibilities that DEP has to the people of Pennsylvania, but does decrease the resources available to fulfill those responsibilities.” He says, “These cuts, if enacted, would harm businesses seeking permits and harm residents’ clean water, air and land.”





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