March 4, 2013

Say the cuts go forward

Buchsbaum said those cuts would impact Great Lakes clean-up.

“They could have devastating effects. It’s about an 8% cut across the board for Great Lakes programs, particularly for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which is the program that has been restoring the Great Lakes, and creating jobs and making the lakes healthy again,” said Buchsbaum.

That equals about a $25 million cut this fiscal year. More cuts could come in the following years.

“The Great Lakes restoration money that we’re seeing now already is much less than the first year.”

The GLRI received $475 million in its first year, the following year the budget was dropped to $300 million.

“And so now we’re talking about going below that $300 million, $275 million or less, you’re really starting to cut into the muscle of Great Lakes restoration,” he said.

The Great Lakes have never seen restoration money from the federal government like this before.

Here’s a map of all the projects the federal government has funded over the years:

Great Lakes Restoration Initiative projects since 2010.

Credit GLRI
Great Lakes Restoration Initiative projects since 2010.

Some are saying these continual budget battles are, at their core, a debate about the size and role of the federal government. So I asked Buchsbaum, why should the federal government get involved in this kind of work?

He said he thinks the debate is really about priorities.

“There’s going to be a federal government. There always is going to be, and it’s going to have certain roles,” Buchsbaum said.

“These are international, inter-state waters. They can’t be cleaned up by states. They can’t be cleaned up by cities. They’re  a shared resource by two countries, and by probably a quarter of the population of the country, so if there’s ever a federal priority, it’s this one.”


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