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House Appropriations Committee rejects Trump’s plan to slash Great Lakes funding

While both Republican and Democrats in the U.S. Congress have pushed back against President Donald Trump’s proposal to eliminate funding to clean up the Great Lakes, the Trudeau government has yet to seriously commit to protecting the Great Lakes.

The Toronto Star reports, “U.S. President Donald Trump’s fellow Republicans have rejected his proposal to eliminate all federal funding for cleaning up the Great Lakes. Trump’s request to slash the budget of the popular Great Lakes Restoration Initiative from $300 million (U.S.) to $0 had sparked an outcry from environmentalists and politicians on both sides of the border. …Republicans and Democrats on the powerful Republican-led House Appropriations Committee decided this week to set the 2018 budget for the restoration initiative at the previous level of $300 million.”

The article adds, “A series of congressional votes are required before the budget is finalized, but advocates say the initiative appears safe.”

In 2014, the Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel reported, “The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative was launched by President Barack Obama in 2009, his first year in office. Initially funded at $475 million, the program received $300 million the next two years and $285 million in 2013.” Today’s news report adds, “The initiative has funded more than 3,000 projects at a cost of more than $2 billion to date. The projects are aimed at cleaning up polluted areas, dealing with invasive species, reducing runoff and restoring habitat.”

The Council of Canadians has called for a $500 million federal budget allocation in this country to implement a Great Lakes Action Plan that would establish a framework for local decision-making, clean up areas of concern, control invasive species, and create an inventory of pollutants. That’s about the same amount of money the Liberals have committed to spend to modernize the military’s existing fleet of 77 CF-18 jet fighters. Water campaigner Emma Lui has noted that the Trudeau government’s Budget 2016 allocated just $3.1 million to improve nearshore water and to address phosphorous pollution in Lake Erie.

The Great Lakes are the source of drinking water for about 40 million people.