MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - The Trump Administration recently came out with a proposed budget that includes $320 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.
"This is money that is absolutely critical to keep the Great Lakes clean. It's used to clean up old toxic sites, it's used to make sure the watersheds, where water's flowing into the lakes, are as clean as possible. So this is very positive,” said U.S. Senator Gary Peters, D-MI.
However, Peters adds that the budget includes cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which is responsible for using the funds to clean up the Great Lakes.
"The administration has put the money that we've been fighting for for many years into the budget, but then has been cutting back the agency that actually administers these programs. So a lot of us are concerned about how it will be administered, because we want to make sure the money is actually put to work,” Peters said.
While the proposed budget calls for cleaning up toxic sites and algae blooms, the Healing Our Waters - Great Lakes Coalition says the budget is “one step forward and three steps back” due to cuts to drinking water resources.
"With many of our towns and cities struggling with unsafe drinking water, now is not the time to cut funding or clean water protections,” said Healing Our Waters – Great Lakes Coalition Director, Laura Rubin.
The coalition says it will work to bring drinking water protections back into the budget before it gets passed by Congress.
"The president's proposed budget is not the final word. Congress controls the purse, and we will continue to work with bipartisan leaders in the House and Senate to fund essential programs that people depend on for their drinking water, health, jobs, and way of life,” said Healing Our Waters – Great Lakes Coalition Policy Director, Chad Lord.
Congressman Jack Bergman, Republican Representative for the Michigan’s 1st Congressional District, says after fighting for Great Lakes funding for years, he believes this budget is a step in the right direction for all Great Lakes and their bordering states.
"We need to keep the Great Lakes healthy for the environment, but also for the economy. Funding the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative just makes sense,” Bergman said.