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Topic: Trump dumps Great Lakes Restoration

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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Great Lakes restoration would be gutted in early White House plan
Todd Spangler , Detroit Free Press Published 8:17 p.m. ET March 2, 2017 | Updated 10 hours ago

WASHINGTON — With reports swirling that President Donald Trump intends sharp cutbacks at the Environmental Protection Agency, the Free Press has learned that a drastic reduction may be under consideration for Great Lakes restoration efforts, which in the past have received bipartisan support.

The National Association of Clean Air Agencies confirmed for the Free Press late Thursday that an initial proposal from the White House Office of Management and Budget calls for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to be cut from $300 million a year to about $10 million.

The cut was first reported by Rob Davis, a reporter for the Oregonian, who tweeted a list of potential cuts — none of which have been finalized. Bill Becker, executive director of the Association of Clean Air Agencies, which includes the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality as a member, was unable to release the proposal but confirmed the figures. He said they could be appealed by the EPA before a budget request is finalized and presented to Congress, which is expected to happen this month.

Neither the Office of Management and Budget nor the EPA responded to the Free Press on the report and whether such a cut was included in a list of initial reductions under consideration.

But as Davis noted in questions posed to him on Twitter, the report was in line with other media reports this week about proposed cuts at the EPA.

The Washington Post first reported this week that the White House was looking at cutting the EPA budget from $8.2 billion to $6.1 billion and reducing staffing by 3,000 employees as it looks to increase funding for the military and slash regulations.

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If the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is targeted for such a drastic reduction — and it is by far the largest dollar cut on Davis’ partial list from the association’s data — it would decimate a program that has helped pay to restore wetlands and improve water quality across the Upper Midwest.

Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio and Pennsylvania — Great Lakes states that backed Trump in the election last year — have all received funding under the initiative, which many lawmakers of both parties in the region have steadfastly supported even when other Republicans have moved to reduce it.

In Michigan, it has helped to pay for improved fish habitat and a pier at Detroit’s Belle Isle; altered channels and dredged river bottoms to remove mercury pollution; created artificial lakes for lake sturgeon and other fish species, and added thousands of acres of wetlands to protected areas as well as funding scores of other projects.

Jordan Lubetkin, a spokesman for the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition, said that even with a long legislative process to follow when the Trump administration submits its final budget proposal to Congress, there are reasons to worry.

“From what we’re hearing these kinds of cuts to EPA programs and EPA staff are very concerning and very troubling,” he said. “The scale at which these cuts are being discussed would be devastating.”

U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., who helped launch the program in 2010, said in a statement: “It is outrageous that just days after delaying a critical plan to stop Asian carp, it appears that President Trump’s budget is calling for a 97% cut in funding for the bipartisan Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.”

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The target list tweeted by Davis included deep cuts to efforts to protect other bodies of water, including Chesapeake Bay, San Francisco Bay and Puget Sound.

While the list was far from complete, it also included a $13-million reduction in compliance monitoring, the program through which the EPA ensures that drinking water standards are met.

An emergency was declared in Flint early last year because of high lead levels in drinking water after the EPA’s partner in local compliance monitoring — the state DEQ — failed to require controls to keep lead from leaching from old pipes.

While reports of deep cuts at the EPA are worrisome to many in support of its mission and programs, any moves to enact those reductions still have a long way to go, however.

The new EPA head, former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, is expected to review any proposals for cuts before a budget plan is finalized. More significantly, those plans will have to be submitted to Congress, which typically drastically rewrites appropriations. And while Republicans hold majorities in both chambers, they do not have enough votes to unilaterally push a budget through the Senate.

“Whatever the president sends us does have to be scrutinized by the (House Appropriations) committee chair,” U.S. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J., said in a telephone town hall with constituents on Tuesday. “There is a check and balance. … Congress in the final analysis will decide what these different agencies get.”

Contact Todd Spangler: 703-854-8947 or tspangler@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @tsspangler. Herb Jackson of the Record (Bergen County, N.J.) contributed to this report.
Post Fri Mar 03, 2017 7:26 am 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

EDF Voices: People on the Planet
The severe, real-world casualties of Trump's EPA budget cuts

Elgie Holstein / Published March 3, 2017 in Climate / Politics


The Trump White House is proposing to decimate funding for federal environmental protection programs – including safeguards for some of our most vulnerable citizens – crippling the agency charged with keeping America’s air and water safe.

The federal budget, normally a snoozer with thousands of pages full of tiny print and numbers, is suddenly a lightning rod for policymakers and citizens who are waking up to what’s at stake.

The Trump administration wants to hobble the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, leaving only, as the president put it, “little bits.” The specifics, contained in internal documents that leaked this week, are startling.
Climate change programs - gone

First, the budget stops all work on President Obama’s landmark Clean Power Plan, which would impose the first-ever limits on carbon emissions from old, coal-fired power plants.

All funding is also stripped for collection of methane emissions data from the oil and gas industry, despite the harm methane does as a highly potent greenhouse gas.

For good measure, the Trump budget plan would then eliminate the EPA’s Global Climate Change Research Program, created in 1990 to coordinate climate research by 13 federal organizations.

On EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s watch, the president wants to cut the agency’s $8 billion budget by an unprecedented 25 percent and slash its 15,000-member workforce by 20 percent. This at an agency that already operates with one of the smallest budgets in the federal government after facing a series of cuts since 2011.
Funding for toxic cleanup – gone

Hundreds of thousands of sites in cities and towns nationwide are polluted by industrial waste containing dangerous chemicals and radioactive waste. The president’s budget proposal would eliminate cleanup funding for communities that count on federal funding to restore such land for redevelopment and new jobs, and to keep their citizens safe.

The president also wants to make deep cuts in EPA’s long-running program that provides funding for local air monitoring – work that lets families and schools know when high pollution levels are dangerous for kids with asthma and for senior citizens.

And as the Flint water crisis continues to make national news, he would take the budget ax to EPA’s essential work in providing funding for local wastewater treatment facilities, and for infrastructure and testing to assure safe drinking water for communities.
Support for vulnerable Americans - gone

President Trump, who has said that all children deserve equal opportunity, apparently sees no need to help communities most vulnerable to pollution and our changing climate. So far, the following have also been eliminated from his EPA budget:

Support for Alaska native villages that are sinking because of climate change
Diesel emissions reduction program
Environmental education
Environmental justice grants and grants to small minority businesses
Protection of the iconic waters of Lake Champlain, Long Island Sound, San Francisco Bay and South Florida
Grants to states to combat indoor radon

An assault of this scale on the nation’s premier environmental watchdog would be disastrous.

We will know a couple of weeks from now, when the president submits his final budget to Congress, just how extensive the attack on the EPA will be. But what we know so far gives us no illusions.

President Trump is not looking out for Americans or for the environment of our great country.
Post Tue Mar 07, 2017 11:26 am 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

THE HUFFINGTON POST
POLITICS 03/06/2017 05:56 pm ET
Trump Proposal To Gut Great Lakes Funding Could Allow Pollution To Flourish
It wasn’t so long ago that the waters were so foul they could actually catch fire.
By Kate Abbey-Lambertz


DETROIT ― The Trump administration’s reported proposal to slash Environmental Protection Agency funding could spell major problems for the Great Lakes.

President Donald Trump’s administration is looking to chop 25 percent from the agency’s budget. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative would see the biggest funding cut, to just $10 million in fiscal 2018 from its nearly $300 million allocation this year ― a 97 percent reduction, according to The Oregonian, which first reported details on funding proposals for several dozen programs last week. Other parts of the EPA budget would roll back regulatory work aimed at curbing climate change.

The Great Lakes initiative started in 2010 and has directed more than $2 billion toward protecting the lakes, the largest surface freshwater source in the world. The EPA partners with more than a dozen other federal agencies and provides local grants for projects like controlling invasive species and managing watersheds to minimize pollution.

A focus is on restoring so-called areas of concern that have been damaged by decades of industrial pollution. The EPA spent $90 million addressing areas of concern last year. Several of the areas have improved enough to be taken off the list since the restoration initiative began in 2010.

The EPA budget cuts were included in an internal recommendation from the Office of Management and Budget that the National Association of Clean Air Agencies obtained and shared with The Oregonian. The association confirmed the figures to The Huffington Post. The EPA can still contest the draft cuts, and Congress ultimately approves a final budget. But the proposed massive reduction concerns researchers in the Great Lakes region.

“If something happens to the EPA and the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, it’s going to be public health that suffers,” said Bradley Cardinale, a University of Michigan ecologist. “This is going to result in a lot of job loss, a lot of pollution and reverting us back to many of the problems we had when Lake Erie once caught on fire because it was so polluted.”

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration receives funding through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, including money for NOAA’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

The lab monitors harmful algae blooms in Lake Erie, which in 2014 were so severe that more than 400,000 people in the Toledo, Ohio, area were without drinking water for several days.
The Washington Post via Getty Images
Lake Erie’s 2014 harmful algae bloom, seen here at Maumee Bay State Park in Oregon, Ohio, left 400,000 people without drinking water.

Cardinale, who partners with the NOAA lab, said he fears the facility could be shut down if significant budget cuts are imposed.

NOAA did not return a request for comment. The EPA said in an email that it wasn’t commenting at this point in the process.

Other scientists echoed Cardinale’s concerns.

“The loss of Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding would be devastating to the health of the Great Lakes,” said Guy Meadows, director of the Great Lakes Research Center at Michigan Technological University, which has received seven Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grants totaling $2.2 million.

Democrats and Republicans who represent the Great Lakes region also deplored the proposed cuts.

Emily Benavides, spokeswoman for Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), pointed to Congress’ rejection of former President Barack Obama’s 2015 plan to cut $50 million from the Great Lakes restoration funding.

“This initiative has been a successful tool in our efforts to help protect and restore Lake Erie, and Rob will continue to fight for it just as he did when the Obama administration proposed cuts to the program,” Benavides said in an email.

“These reports are alarming,” Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) said in a statement. “I will be fighting hard alongside colleagues on both sides of the aisle so we can turn this around and make sure our Great Lakes are properly protected.”

Cardinale said his chief concern is the impact to the local economy.

“The first thing I’m worried about is people, and the single biggest concern is going to be job loss,” Cardinale said. “This is going to extend way beyond the 3,000 jobs and families that are going to be affected at EPA.”

About 1.5 million jobs were tied to the Great Lakes in 2009, according to a report from Michigan Sea Grant, including more than 200,000 tourism-related positions. That industry could falter if restoration is halted and pollution worsens, Cardinale said.

“Nobody likes to visit places that are polluted and disgusting,” he said.

The Great Lakes account for 20 percent of the world’s fresh water and provide drinking water to 40 million people.

Other EPA programs that could be drastically cut or shuttered altogether target the Chesapeake Bay, Puget Sound, San Francisco Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. Initiatives design
Post Tue Mar 07, 2017 1:49 pm 
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