Traverse City Record Eagle: GLRI Funding Safe for Now; Environmentalists: Trump Policies Threaten Great Lakes

Traverse City Record Eagle

By Jordan Travis

TRAVERSE CITY — Funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative appears to be safe through 2018, despite calls from the White House to eliminate it.

But an environmental law expert and Traverse City environmental nonprofit director fear other proposals from the Trump administration and federal lawmakers could hurt the Great Lakes’ environmental health.

Trump’s budget proposal called for eliminating the GLRI’s $300 million in funding for the coming fiscal year, the Associated Press reported. The wide-reaching program funds environmental cleanups, fights invasive species and more. It enjoys broad support from environmental advocates and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, and the proposal to blank its funding drew widespread criticism.

Great Lakes advocates can claim a small victory now that federal lawmakers have formally proposed leaving GLRI funding untouched, Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay Executive Director Christine Crissman said.

Members of a U.S. House of Representatives appropriations subcommittee have called for keeping GLRI funding at $300 million through September 2018, subcommittee records state.

Their bill has yet to make it through the full committee and legislative process before Trump can sign it — or not — but it’s a good start, Crissman said. The Watershed Center has used GLRI funding for every large-scale water quality improvement project it has undertaken for the past six years.

“We should absolutely celebrate this as a huge victory and a really big win in the battle on environmental issues,” she said.

But Environmental Law & Policy Center founder Howard Learner said it’s too soon to declare victory on GLRI funding. Yet he was also encouraged by the small step, and echoed Crissman in saying there’s plenty more to fight for.

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