The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative in 2011 maintained a line in the President’s new budget released this a.m. but it was cut from $475 million to $300 million. Last year, President Barack Obama used his first budget to provide money for the Great Lakes to use toward restoration efforts. As the first US President to do this, Obama was following through on a campaign pledge he made to our eight states. In a year when there is a budget freeze for many discretionary programs and also lots of cuts, the Great Lakes remained important enough for the White House to include new funding for restoration projects that focus on cleaning up contaminated sediments and toxics, nonpoint source pollution, habitat degradation and loss and invasive species.
The White House explains that they cut the funding by $175 only because it is a new program and it is unlikely all of the 2010 funds will be spent this year. “Over much of the past year, EPA and other agencies have been working together and with stakeholders to get administrative and accountability functions in place, including an action plan that will guide restoration efforts. Implementing these critical items now will ease program administration in the future and result in better coordination and results. Consequently, much of the 2010 funding will not be spent until 2011.”