The roller coaster ride continues, maddeningly, for funding for a federal program that actually has been making good progress in cleaning up the St. Louis River and other polluted “areas of concern” around the Great Lakes.
The latest plunge downward came when the administration of President Donald Trump released its federal budget proposal and included a devastating 90 percent slash in cash for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, from $300 million this year to just $30 million in 2019.
Other programs aimed at keeping clean and pristine our lakes and drinking water also were slated for cuts. Even $167 million last year for federal help to communities to reduce polluted runoff was bottomed out at $0 in the proposal.
If this all sounds troublingly familiar it’s because practically the same thing happened a year ago. In March, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative was targeted for a 97 percent reduction in funding under Trump, from $300 million to just $10 million. Then, in May, the budget blueprint the administration sent to Congress eliminated the initiative’s money altogether.
The wishy-washy support from D.C. for protecting the Great Lakes has been a bit hard to fathom. For once, it can’t be politics. The initiative was created under President George W. Bush, like Trump a Republican. It was then funded consistently by the administration of President Barack Obama, a Democrat.
FROM AN EDITORIAL IN THE DULUTH NEWS TRIBUNE