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Funding for Great Lakes protection at risk?


Listen to today's Environment Report.

Early budget indications suggest the Trump administration could slash funding for the Great Lakes.

There are many possible cuts to EPA programs. Great Lakes restoration money could be cut by 97%, and money for beach monitoring could be also at risk.

Molly Flanagan is vice president of policy with the Alliance for the Great Lakes. She says right now, the EPA grants beach monitoring funding to states and tribes.

“And the states and tribes use that money for beach monitoring and notification programs. So they use the money in two ways: first, to collect and analyze water samples to figure out what’s in it; and then second, to notify the public if the water is unsafe for swimming,” she says.

Flanagan says that reducing that fund significantly doesn’t make much sense - and could be dangerous.

“The funding of beach monitoring is really critical to protecting public health, because the monitoring and the notification programs are what let you and your family know whether it’s safe to swim,” she says.

There could be major cuts to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, a pot of money that's used to protect the lakes from pollution, invasive species, and to restore ecosystems.

But the GLRI enjoys immense bipartisan support, and Flanagan expects that lawmakers from the Great Lakes region would not stand for any massive cuts to the program.

Even if Great Lakes lawmakers need to bargain with the representatives from other states, Flanagan hopes that they will be able to fight the cuts.

“I mean, it’s hard to read the tea leaves, but I think we’ll put up a good fight and hopefully be successful in retaining the funding,” she says.

Copyright 2021 Michigan Radio. To see more, visit Michigan Radio.

Rebecca Williams