, , ,

Environmental Groups Respond To Proposed Cuts In Great Lakes Restoration Funds

Advocates Say Program Helps Cities Improve Sewers, Wastewater Treatment Plants

Photo Credit: Lake Express

The leader of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is asking for understanding about a proposed $25-million cut in Great Lakes restoration funds.

President Barack Obama recently pledged to keep the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative going for another five years. However, in the federal budget the president proposed this week, he is recommending slicing next year’s funding level by $25 million from the current $300 million.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy told Great Lakes environmental groups that her agency is excited to get $275 million for the Great Lakes program. She said the money was allocated based on the budget deal negotiated by U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., in December.

Stay informed on the latest news

Sign up for WPR’s email newsletter.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

“Given the fact that the Ryan-Murray budget limitations had to be respected. They were a bipartisan agreement,” she said. “But, we know that is going to disappoint many who wished that we had the same level (as) last year, if not more. And frankly, we all would have wished that to be the case.”

McCarthy pledged to work with green groups and local government officials to prioritize upcoming Great Lakes projects, but officials with the Healing Our Waters — Great Lakes Coalition has already started lobbying Congress for the full $300 million.

Coalition director Todd Ambs said the proposed cut threatens to slow some work in Wisconsin.

“We’ve had a good healthy down payment on these important projects over the last few years since the initiative started in 2010,” he said. “But, there’s a lot more work to be done. We really want to keep the momentum.”

Ambs said that Great Lakes advocates are also trying to avoid a cut in a program that helps cities improve their sewers and wastewater treatment plants.