Funding for Great Lakes programs is protected in the latest federal budget signed into law by President Donald Trump, but Gary Wilson, contributor to Detroit Public Television’s Great Lakes Bureau says many of the same battles may be fought again for next year’s budget.
Wilson calls the President’s budget proposal last year, that would have eliminated funding for federal Great Lakes restoration programs, a “shock to the system.” But he says the end result with that money is being protected is not surprising. Wilson says the proposed funding cut was a rallying cry for lawmakers and environmental advocates, who pushed back on the proposal.
Last year the EPA announced that the Kalamazoo River super fund site was one of several being given “priority status.” Wilson says the budget doesn’t give much new information about what that means. There isn’t any new money for sites like the Kalamazoo River. Wilson says it appears that EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt wants to resolving pending litigation. He says the details of what a settlement would look like aren’t known.
Wilson says while Great Lakes advocates and lawmakers from the region are relieved that major cuts were not included in the final budget, they should be prepared for another fight. Wilson says the “new normal” for environmental policy is that President Trump will likely propose major cuts again. Wilson says a 90% cut has already been proposed for 2019.