Gary Wilson says most observers are not surprised by the Trump administration’s approach to the Great Lakes so far. The contributor to Detroit Public Television’s Great Lakes Bureau says the Trump campaign did signal support for Great Lakes restoration in 2016, but also said there would be changes in the Environmental Protection Agency.
Gary Wilson joined WMUK’s Gordon Evans to review the major stories surrounding Great Lakes and environmental policy in 2017.
Shortly after President Trump’s inauguration, a budget proposal was put forward that took all the money away from Great Lakes restoration. Wilson says while cuts to the federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative were expected, eliminating all funding caught people by surprise. Eventually the money was restored, but Wilson says that budget still has not been finalized.
The EPA recently announced that it’s putting “focus and attention” on 21 superfund sites, including a stretch of the Kalamazoo River. Wilson says that the agency’s administrator Scott Pruitt is looking to make Superfund sites his signature issue. Wilson says the sites being given priority seem to have a good chance at success. But he says the details, such as whether there will be additional funding, aren’t known.
Wilson says Enbridge Energy’s Line 5 that runs Under the Straits of Mackinac isn’t likely to be resolved soon, and will likely be an issue in next year’s election. Wilson says the 2010 Kalamazoo River oil spill helped focus more attention to Line 5, and the possible consequences of a major spill there.
Asked about a story that could emerge in 2018, Wilson says he’s keeping an eye on drinking water quality. He says Flint brought more attention to it, but he says the issue includes water contaminated by agriculture run-off.