Scientists Bend Lawmakers' Ears About Great Lakes
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Congress has been getting an earful over the past few days about President Trump's plan to gut the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. Groups representing the Great Lakes states have been descending on Washington to push back against huge cuts planned for environmental programs.
Scientists like Darrell Gerber, natural resource associate with the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, joined others from New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana and Illinois to tell Congress there’s a lot at stake in the new federal budget - including clean drinking water for millions of people. Gerber said a great deal of progress has been made in cleaning up some of the lakes' most polluted sites.
"With the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, these have been getting cleaned up,” Gerber said. "There's been a number of them already delisted because of the funding, and a number including the St Louis River, which is in Minnesota and Wisconsin, are on the pathway to being delisted."
The federal budget draft cuts the initiative by about 97 percent. Trump has vowed to cut spending for agencies such as the EPA and use the money to boost the defense budget.
Gerber said he and others are reaching out to members of Congress, hoping they'll vote against the massive cuts.
"It's been a program that has had really strong bipartisan support,” he said. "It certainly was proposed by the Obama administration, but some of its supporters have been Republicans in Congress."
The EPA says the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has been the largest investment in the Great Lakes in two decades.