By Peak Johnson
President Donald Trump has proposed extensive cuts to the U.S. EPA, which could have far-reaching implications. In Chicago, cuts could mean a struggle to protect drinking water.
The Chicago Tribune reported that cuts “would limit the government's ability to address ongoing threats to people and wildlife, including hormone-disrupting chemicals in drinking water, invasive species that imperil the Great Lakes, and dirty diesel engines that contribute to lung-damaging smog.”
Trump’s plan would reduce the EPA’s spending by 31 percent to $5.7 billion and would lay off one out of every five EPA employees.
There are some programs, according to the Tribune, “that would be eliminated entirely, including a $300 million fund for Great Lakes restoration and a similar program for Chesapeake Bay.”
"This is a total abandonment of responsibility to protect what we all hold dear, including the Great Lakes, a vital national and international resource," David Ullrich, a former EPA official, told the Tribune.
Both Lake Michigan and the Chicago River are a lot cleaner than they were years ago, but all that could change drastically if the cuts are implemented.
Earlier this month, The Hill reported that Michigan’s two Democratic senators discussed a report that the president would attempt “to nearly wipe out a federal Great Lakes cleanup fund.”
Michigan Live reported that, “A document from the National Association of Clean Air Agencies says the White House is considering a 97 percent reduction in Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) funding for Great Lakes restoration. The program — currently a $300 million account — would receive only $10 million under the proposed budget”
The Tribune further reported that “Federal money and legal pressure also are largely responsible for reducing the amount of sewage that cities once routinely pumped into the Great Lakes, and for cleaning up the Chicago River to the point where the city has built an elaborate Riverwalk downtown and commissioned boathouses designed by celebrated architects.”
"If anything good can come out of the Trump budget, it is reminding people about the reasons why the EPA was created in the first place," Eric Schaeffer, the agency’s former top enforcement official, told the Tribune.
Image credit: "Lakes, August 2011" barnyz © 2011 used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/