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Editorials blast Trump's proposed cuts for Great Lakes

A budget proposal to slash federal funds for the Great Lakes cleanup is being skewered in the opinion pages of the region's newspapers.

In Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota and other Great Lakes states, editorials have called the draft proposal "foolish," "unacceptable" and a "job-killer."

The draft would cut annual funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which funds a wide range of programs, from $300 million to $10 million. (Other agencies important to the lakes, including the Coast Guard, also would face big cuts.)

Trump has pledged to cut federal regulations and increase defense spending. He hasn't sent his budget to Congress, so those numbers -- which also are being criticized by some officials in the region -- could change. In the meantime, here's how editorials describe the plan: 

Cleveland Plain Dealer: Never. No way. A frittering away of the nation's most precious water resources. A job-killer, and a curse on future generations. That's what Republican Sen. Rob Portman must say loud and clear about a leaked Trump administration plan to gut Great Lakes funding. ...

Never has the threat been more grave. … Gutting money for the Great Lakes would be foolish: Voters in Ohio and four other Great Lakes states -- Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana and Pennsylvania -- helped make Donald Trump president. And this would be the thanks they'd get?

Stephen Henderson, Detroit Free Press Editorial Page Editor: All of us in the Great Lakes states have the same interest in protecting these waters. We all depend on them for recreation, for commerce — for life.

And they don’t take care of themselves. This is one of the foundational reasons for government intervention and action —  to be sure that avarice or neglect don’t have us all drinking dirty water or watching lake fires out our back windows. …

Buffalo News: The progress is remarkable but not complete, here and elsewhere around the Great Lakes, a unique inland waterway that had previously been accorded the status of an outhouse. Invasive species remain a threat, for example, as do algae blooms that poison the western end of Lake Erie and threaten to infect the eastern end. …

The GLRI is a response to those issues. It has changed the dynamic, for the direct benefit of millions of voters of both parties who live near the lakes and the indirect benefit of millions more.

That makes this a foolish proposal – environmentally, politically and financially.

Duluth News Tribune: The gut punch to the worthwhile Great Lakes Restoration Initiative was actually a one-two. It came right after news broke that a plan to keep Asian carp from swimming or jumping out of the Illinois River system and into the Great Lakes had been put on indefinite hold by the Trump administration. …

Reclaiming the Great Lakes was a widely embraced, even bipartisan, priority. It demands to continue to be. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative was making good progress. That simply cannot be stifled now.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:Cutting Great Lakes funding from $300 million to $10 million, as the Trump administration reportedly is considering, is unacceptable. And Congress, led by representatives from the Great Lakes states — especially House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) — needs to send a strong message that it won't stand for such a measure and will restore any money that is cut.Those representatives deserve the grass-roots support of citizens not only from the Great Lakes region but from across the country, to restore and preserve what is a global treasure of fresh water and a source of recreation and jobs for millions of people.

Hamilton (Ont.) Spectator: If you've been around long enough, you will recall the days when the water quality in the lakes was far from what it is now. Centuries of industrial and agricultural development spawned environmental damage that was nearly catastrophic. In 2010 the GLRI was launched, ostensibly to recover and protect the lakes on behalf of the tens of millions of Canadians and Americans who rely on them. The mission objectives? To keep the lakes clean, prevent and control invasive species, restore natural habitats and reduce nutrient run-off and poisons that kill fish.

In short, this is not some trendy, fringe environmental project. This is life and death.

Copyright 2017 Great Lakes Today

Dave Rosenthal
Dave Rosenthal is Managing Editor of Great Lakes Today, a collaboration of public media stations that is led by WBFO, ideastream in Cleveland in WXXI in Rochester, and includes other stations in the region.
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