A coalition of more than 145 environmental, conservation, and outdoor recreation groups is speaking out against the Trump administration's widely reported plans to propose massive funding cuts to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.
Reports say Trump's proposed budget would slash funding for Great Lakes Restoration programs by 97% from $300 million to $10 million.
"Funding cuts of this magnitude would be devastating," said Todd Ambs, campaign director for Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. "(It) would essentially stop restoration efforts in their tracks."
"Not only would this destroy the on-the-ground restoration efforts, but it would severely curtail the EPA's regional presence," said Ambs. He says protection of the Great Lakes cannot happen without a strong EPA.
"Communities would continue to grapple with drinking water restrictions, fish consumption advisories, and closed beaches - a state of affairs that undermines public health and economic development," said Joy Mullinex, co-chair of the Coalition.
"There's a reason that the Great Lakes Restoration investment is supported by the region's chambers of commerce. industries, mayors, and tribes, and conservation groups. These investments are good for the environment and the economy," Mullinex said.
Ambs also raised concerns about two other recent environmental actions of the Trump administration.
He said the administration should not delay the release of a government study on how to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes and he condemned Trump's recent executive order to start the process of rescinding Clean Water Act protections of streams and wetlands that feed drinking water supplies to one in three Americans.
"In the Great Lakes region, the protections extend to waters feeding drinking water supplies that more than 20 million people depend on for clean, safe tap water," Ambs said.
"Taken together, the actions of this administration are of great concern and simply do not reflect the broad, bi-partisan support that Great Lakes Restoration work has enjoyed for many years," he said.