Funding cuts to Great Lakes restoration?
President Obama released his 2012 budget yesterday.
In it, he calls for major cuts to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.
The goal of this multi-year program is to restore habitat... clean up pollution... and keep new invasive species out of the Lakes.
Initially, President Obama requested $475 million for the first year of the program. He got that under a democratic Congress.
Congress is wrestling with how much money to allocate for the second year (this current fiscal year).
President Obama's budget deals with the third year of GLRI funding. Obama wants to cut $125 million out of next year’s budget for the program.
I talked with Jeff Skelding, the campaign director of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition, to find out what this might mean. He says:
"The state of Michigan has a huge stake in this. They need their share of that funding to insure that restoration activities proceed forward under severely challenging economic times."
Skelding calls the GLRI "probably the most historic restoration program ever enacted by Congress for the Great Lakes." He says there is strong bi-partisan support for the program from the Great Lakes Congressional delegation, which makes him hopeful.