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Interviews with news makers and discussion of topics important to Southwest Michigan. Subscribe to the podcast through Apple itunes and Google. Segments of interview are heard in WestSouthwest Brief during Morning Edition and All Things Considered

WSW: The Great Lakes And The Trump Administration

File photo of the South Haven lighthouse by WMUK

Great Lakes Echo Commentator Gary Wilson says this year’s election should have taught everyone the hazards of making predictions. So instead of forecasting how President-elect Donald Trump will address the Great Lakes, Wilson has some suggestions. 

In his column for Great Lakes Echo, called Great Lakes: The Trump Effect, Wilson suggests a short list of priorities for the next administration. Wilson says drinking water quality should be at the top of that list. Wilson says Flint’s drinking water crisis, linked to management and infrastructure has been covered extensively.

But Toledo had its own problem with drinking water in 2014 because of algae blooms in Lake Erie. Wilson says “these drinking water failures are striking and they’re seen from outside region as just kind of a continuation of the rust belt mentality.” 

"These drinking water failures are striking and they're seen from outside region as just kind of a continuation of the rust belt mentality."

Fixing Lake Erie is Wilson’s other recommendation for President-elect Trump. He says it stands out for a lack of progress during the Obama administration. Wilson says the problem is that it’s hard for politicians of all stripes, to stand up to agriculture. He says a lack of regulation on pollution runoff has led to Lake Erie’s problems. Wilson says a lack of attention at the federal level to the algae blooms in Lake Erie helped make the problem worse.

Although he doesn’t mention invasive species in his column, Wilson says that could be issue where Trump reaches out to Democrats. Wilson says environmentalists want physical separation of the Great Lakes from the Mississippi River to keep Asian Carp and other species out. The Army Corps of Engineers has studied the issue, and says it’s an expensive long-term plan. Wilson says Trump might be open to such a separation because he’s placed a priority on infrastructure. But Wilson says that could pit Trump again business interests (shipping) which would oppose a physical barrier.

Interview with Gary Wilson - web version

Wilson says improving water infrastructure would be helpful to the Great Lakes region. He says The Kalamazoo River oil spill in 2010 and the risks of the pipeline through the Straits of Mackinac both show the need for pipeline safety.

Whatever happens next it seems that a change is coming to policies that affect the Great Lakes. Wilson says President Obama has been “the best friend that the Great Lakes ever had.” Wilson says with Trump in the White House and a Republican controlled Congress, Great Lakes advocates will have to work in new and different ways for at least the next four years.

Gordon Evans became WMUK's Content Director in 2019 after more than 20 years as an anchor, host and reporter. A 1990 graduate of Michigan State, he began work at WMUK in 1996.
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