Coming on the heels of President Trump’s FY19 budget—which recommended steep cuts to core Great Lakes programs—citizens from Indiana traveled to Washington, D.C. on March 7 & 8 to urge members of Congress to restore federal support to agencies and programs that restore and protect Lake Michigan and the other Great Lakes. The visit is part of Great Lakes Day, an annual affair sponsored by the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition and the Great Lakes Commission in which more than 100 citizens visit Hill offices to underscore the importance of the lakes to Indiana and the region.
“Great Lakes restoration and protection is a solid economic and environmental investment,” said Natalie Johnson, Executive Director, Save the Dunes. “We look forward to working with the U.S. Congress to make sure that Indiana maintains its commitment to the Great Lakes.”
President Trump’s FY19 budget, released Feb. 12, recommended cutting core Great Lakes restoration programs, including reducing the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative from $300 million to $30 million. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the product of a long history of bipartisan, multi-sector, and community-based support, has been instrumental in helping communities clean up toxic pollution, restore fish and wildlife habitat, fight invasive species like Asian carp, and reduce runoff pollution. In Indiana, $134 million of investments have funded 105 key projects, including the remediation and restoration of the Grand Calumet River.
“Federal programs like the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative are producing results in Indiana and across the region, but serious threats remain,” said Johnson. “If we cut funding now, projects will only become more challenging and costlier the longer we wait.”
Advocates from Indiana joined citizens from across the eight-state region of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York to urge public officials to:
- Support $300 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative
- Defend core capacity and funding at federal agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency
- At least double current funding for drinking water and waste water infrastructure
- Support Farm Bill conservation programs
- Support policies that protect the Great Lakes from invasive species
“Indiana’s Lake Michigan is a critical part of our region’s identity, economic well-being, and quality of life,” said Johnson. “We must vigilantly advocate for the continued protection of all of the Great Lakes and the value that they provide.”