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Trump Looks To Chop Great Lakes Restoration Funds By 97 Percent: Report

By Stephen Gossett in News on Mar 3, 2017 10:16PM

Getty Images / Photo: Chip Somodevilla

Funding for the Great Lakes restoration initiative may soon a gargantuan cut. An initial proposal from the Trump administration would chop funds for the environmental effort from $300 million per fiscal year all the way down to $10 million, according to reports.

A copy of the plan obtained by Oregonian reporter Rob Davis illustrates the drastic, 97 percent reduction. The proposed cut reportedly comes from the White House Office of Management and was also confirmed to the Detroit Free Press by the National Association of Clean Air Agencies.

The Great Lakes initiative, launched in 2010, cleaning up toxins, combats invasive species, works to restore wetlands and other habitats in the region, among other priorities, according to the GLRI website. Areas of funded focus in Illinois have included cleanup in the Waukegan Harbor.

While Great Lakes funding is the most dramatic reduction, the program is hardly alone on the chopping block. The plan would eliminate funds for the Environmental Protection Agency's San Francisco Bay program and certain state grant programs, such as the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act.

The EPA cuts would strip its budget by $2 billion and its staff by some 3,000 employees, the Oregonian reports.

The cuts are drastic but, in a sense, no a surprise.

"We're going to have little tidbits left but we're going to get most of it out," Trump said of the EPA last year. The Washington Post reported on Wednesday that details of a budget plan obtained by the paper showed the elimination of dozens of environmental programs as the administration looks to dramatically reallocate domestic spending toward military and defense. Trump has said he aims to increase security spending by $54 billion.

The huge spending reductions would ultimately need to be approved by Congress, but as Vox points out, several GOP members of Congress have been angling for a diminished EPA budget in recent years. However, according to the Detroit Free Press, the Great Lakes initiative has seen support in the past from some Republican legislators from the affected region.

The DFP writes:

"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."