GREAT LAKES: Bipartisan Effort Blocks Restoration Cuts, For Now
Canadian Leader Questions Confined Animal Feeding Operations
The Great Lakes states of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin is where the 80,000 votes to put Donald Trump over the top in the electoral college came from, so why is he aiming budget cuts at the Great Lakes?
That is the question being asked by members of both parties.
A bipartisan Senate effort has halted President Donald Trump's proposed cuts in funding for the Great Lakes in this year's budget, but regional legislators fear similar action will be raised next year.
U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Co-Chair of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force, released the following statement on her bipartisan efforts to stop President Trump's proposed $50 million cut in Great Lakes funding in the Fiscal Year 2017 funding bill:
"I am pleased to have successfully led the bipartisan effort to stop President Trump from cutting $50 million in Great Lakes funding this year. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has always received bipartisan support and is absolutely critical to supporting Michigan jobs and protecting our Great Lakes, including fishing, boating, hunting and stopping invasive species.
"As Co-Chair of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force, I will continue working with my colleagues across the aisle to make sure President Trump's plan to completely eliminate Great Lakes funding next year is stopped."
Meanwhile, Ohio's two U.S. senators announced today that the $300 million Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has been approved as part of a federal spending measure.
Sens. Sherrod Brown (D.) and Rob Portman (R.) said the money was included in the government funding measure finalized late last night, according to the Toledo Blade.
The two said they raised concerns over President Trumps 2018 budget request to eliminate the program, and they vowed to fight to save it.
"Investing in Lake Erie means investing in local jobs and ensuring clean drinking water for Ohio," Mr. Brown said. "I'm proud to see Ohio Republicans and Democrats coming together to support our Great Lake and do what's right for Ohio."
"Winning full funding for this bipartisan initiative is a victory for Lake Erie, the Great Lakes, and Ohio. Lake Erie is critical to Ohio for tourism, for our fishing industry, and for the drinking water of three million Ohioans," Mr. Portman said.
Mr. Portman said the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has been an effective public-private program protecting the Lake from threats like harmful algae and invasive species.
The Administration?s plan to eliminate the $300 million Great Lakes Restoration Initiative would devastate the lakes region and affect cross-border relations the United States has with Canada, according to Bernadette Rappold, former EPA official, speaking recently at an economic forum.
"This is a pretty bold budget cut the president has proposed for the [U.S.] EPA," she said.
Ms. Rappold said she believes the Great Lakes have strong enough bipartisan support to keep those and other cuts from occurring.
"If the Great Lakes fall into ruin, that's a problem," she said. "If those lakes are allowed to be sullied, it not only hurts the environment -- of course -- but also this incredible economic engine. The Great Lakes are important in their own right, but also because they're an economic driver."
Gordon Walker, Canadian chair of the International Joint Commission, said one of the big changes is the growth of concentrated animal feeding operations or CAFOs. He said they especially impact western Lake Erie because of its warmth and shallowness.
"They don't seem to milk 60 cows anymore," Mr. Walker said of the agriculture industry. "Six thousand cows is more like it. What happens to all of that [manure]?"
Andrew Bond, a senior manager for Deloitte LLP, released a global tourism report that showed the Great Lakes region does well but has shown an uneven performance despite 4 percent annual growth.
He said there is a huge opportunity to expand tourism in this region.
Tourism accounts for 9 percent of the world's gross domestic product, Mr. Bond said.
"Globally, tourism is a powerhouse. We're talking about a significant, significant industry," Mr. Bond said. "The Great Lakes region is well-positioned to capitalize on this growth."
"They don?t seem to milk 60 cows anymore," Mr. Walker said of the agriculture industry. "Six thousand cows is more like it. What happens to all of that [manure]?"
Exactly! That's the question we have been asking for years.
Dave Rogers is a former editorial writer for the Bay City Times and a widely read,
respected journalist/writer in and around Bay City.
(Contact Dave Via Email at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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