Gary Wilson says if the Trump administration’s proposed cuts stand it would be devastating for Great Lakes restoration. The contributor to Detroit Public Television’s Great Lakes Bureau says it would be like a panic stop with your car. “You’re going forward and then suddenly put a halt to everything.”
The President’s first draft budget includes a 97% funding cut for Great Lakes programs. Wilson says Republicans from Great Lakes states will likely push to restore at least some of the funding. But he says it remains to be seen how hard will they push, and how much funding they will they will able to restore.
Wilson thinks the most likely scenario is that about half of the money gets restored. He says that would allow all sides to declare victory. President Trump can say he cut funding for the Environmental Protection Agency. While environmentalists can say they held firm against the initial proposal.
President Trump has made cutting EPA funding a priority. But Wilson says the size of the cut is “astonishing.” Wilson says the cuts to Great Lakes programs could have a big impact in Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin. Three states that were crucial to Trump’s victory in November.
The Trump administration has put “The Waters of the United States” Rules on hold. They were drafted by the Obama administration to clarify which waters are regulated by the federal government. Wilson says the rules are already on hold because of a lawsuit, and now the President has ordered a review.
A delay has also been ordered in a plan to contain Asian Carp. Wilson says things move slowly, “but they have to move forward if some day you want to keep Asian Carp from coming up the Kalamazoo River.”
Wilson says many Great Lakes related issues have bi-partisan agreement across the states. But he says Asian Carp is an exception. The shipping lobby objects to plans that could keep the Great Lakes separated from some rivers. Wilson says those are powerful in both Illinois and Indiana.