Last week the House Appropriations Committee set the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) to the previous funding level of $300 million, going against a recommendation from the White House 2018 budget proposal eliminating it, according to the The Star.com.
Cutting funding to Great Lakes water quality, the drinking water sources of nearly 40 million, was part of a larger package of environmental programming reductions to interior, environment and related agencies proposed in the budget blueprint released in March. Bi-partisan representatives responded quickly to both environmental and local government concerns about the proposed cuts in a March letter to the leaders of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies.
In the letter, 63 members of Congress addressed GLRI’s measurable results, as well as the Great Lakes’ vulnerabilities, citing a 2014 toxic algal bloom that left 400,000 Toledo, Ohio, area residents without water services for three days. U.S. and Canadian mayors were reportedly very concerned about the cuts:
The early proposals were just devastating for all of us in the Great Lakes Basin. We have about 70 percent Canadian membership and 30 percent U.S. And I think the Canadians were as upset or even more upset than the U.S. side. They kind of viewed that as almost a betrayal of the friendship we have between our countries,” said David Ullrich, adviser and former executive director for the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, a coalition of mayors.
The Star reported that the House Appropriations Committee also softened on many of the other proposed cuts, settling on a reduction of $528 million (or 7 percent) to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency budget, substantially less than Trump’s suggestion of $2.6 billion or 31 percent cut.