Trump’s budget chops Sea Grant program and its aid to towns on Great Lakes’ coast

Mar 17, 2017

President Donald Trump’s proposed budget was leaked last week. It looked like money to protect the Great Lakes would be cut by 97%. That leaked document was wrong.

Trump’s budget proposal completely eliminated funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

In addition, there are substantial cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The Michigan Sea Grant is a big part of protecting the Great Lakes. It’s a cooperative effort between the University of Michigan and Michigan State University.

James Diana, director for the Michigan Sea Grant, joined Stateside to explain the impact of the cuts and what his organization does.

"Our focus is to provide education, outreach and research to help solve problems of the coastal area of the Great Lakes," Diana said. 

The group handles ecological, economic, and infrastructure problems, including invasive species, protecting wildlife and their habitats and helping coastal areas "do better." 

For fiscal year 2016, the Michigan Sea Grant received $1.8 million and if the budget is approved, that number would be taken down to zero. Michigan wouldn't be the only state affected by this budget. Michigan Sea Grant is one of 33 Sea Grant programs from across the nation. That's a total of about $73 million in funding.

Compared to the size of the federal budget, Diana said his organization's funding is a small drop in the bucket. 

"For Michigan Sea Grant itself, I was surprised they got that far down in the budget," Diana said. "We're about one-tenth of 1% of what they need in order to pay off the defense budget that they're hoping to increase. So it seems pretty far down in the weeds."

Listen to the full interview above to hear about some of the programs that Sea Grant funds, what will happen if its funding is eliminated, and what Diana has been told by Michigan politicians about the cuts. 

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