Tag: Trump administration

Trump Administration: Importance of Great Lakes Cleanup Equal to Hosting a Military Parade

The Trump Administration on February 14 revealed that President Donald Trump’s proposed military parade, inspired by his attendance at the Bastille Day celebration last July in Paris, would cost taxpayers as much as $30 million.

While there’s been broad criticism of the appropriateness of such a display by the world’s sole military superpower, particularly in the context of federal budget deficits, it was the $30 million figure that stuck with me.

That’s because just two days earlier, the administration released its proposed $4.4 trillion fiscal year 2019 budget, which would severely cut core Great Lakes programs as well as funding for the federal agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency, charged with implementing them.

Of key concern to FLOW and other Great Lakes policy groups is the proposed 90% cut from fiscal year 2017 budget levels to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI), which helps communities clean up toxic pollution, reduce polluted runoff, fight invasive species such as Asian carp, and restore fish and wildlife habitat. Funding for the GLRI would be slashed from $300 million down to just… $30 million.

Thus, in the course of two days, the administration had equated the importance of restoring and protecting the world’s largest surface freshwater system with hosting a one-time military display.

Thankfully, proposed cuts have drawn bipartisan scorn from Michigan’s congressional delegation, which successfully protected the GLRI from elimination in last year’s budget. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, released a statement saying, “Michigan deserves better than this. The health of our Great Lakes must be a higher priority.”

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, who co-authored the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative in 2010, pointed to the critical role that clean water plays in our economy, with more than 700,000 Michigan jobs – fully 1-in-5 jobs in the state – tied to water resources. Michigan projects have received more than $600 million in funding from the initiative since its start.

It’s the same success story across the watershed, where the Great Lakes generate more than 1.5 million jobs and $60 billion in wages annually, support a $7 billion fishing economy, and provide drinking water to more than 40 million people.

Kelly Thayer

Communities across the Great Lakes region are benefiting from economic recovery and re-investment thanks to the GLRI. Full implementation of the initiative is projected to generate $50 billion in long-term economic benefits for the region and a 2:1 return on investment, according to the Great Lakes Commission.

Visionary leaders are calling for a continued Midwest transformation from Rust Belt to Water Belt. Getting there requires steady, long-term investment and oversight – just the opposite of short-term grandstanding at a parade.

FLOW Board Member Calls HB 4205 Contender for Worst Michigan Environmental Bill of 21st Century

The Michigan legislature has introduced what is a sure contender for the worst Michigan environmental bill of the 21st century.  The bill, HB 4205, would prohibit all state agencies from promulgating any administrative rule that is more stringent than an applicable federal standard.  With the federal government actively seeking to dismantle historic environmental protections by lowering or eliminating a whole host of environmental standards, HB 4205 could result in irreparable and irrevocable harm to Michigan’s priceless natural resource heritage.

We cannot assign the responsibility to protect Michigan’s natural resources to the federal government.  We cannot surrender the safeguarding of Michigan’s natural resources to an administration that is contemptuous of efforts to protect land and water resources and boasts of its eagerness to eviscerate existing environmental rules. 

The Trump Administration’s pledge to repeal two administrative rules for every rule promulgated and its promise to use the Congressional Review Act to void environmental regulations are indicators of the potential harm HB 4205 could create.  The Trump Administration’s roll back of 23 environmental rules in its first 100 days is harm already incurred.

Michigan’s natural resources are globally unique, requiring vigilant protection and stewardship.  Our Great Lakes hold 20 percent of the world’s supply of fresh surface waters and harbor distinctive, specialized watersheds.  Our shoreline of 3,288 miles is by far the longest freshwater coastline in the United States, shaping coastal dunes that are singularly unique natural features.  Science affirms that our inland lakes, rivers, streams, and wetlands are an integrated, interconnected, mutually dependent hydrologic system providing immeasurable services and benefits to all citizens.

In all, Michigan’s natural resources are magnificent, unparalleled and sublime – a natural endowment demanding extraordinary legislative safeguarding.  HB 4205 is antithetical to Michigan’s values, laws and environmental legacy.

HB 4205 has eleven legislative co-sponsors.  Their support of this bill is irreconcilable with their constitutional responsibilities.  Michigan’s Constitution explicitly defines the primary duty legislators have to protect Michigan’s natural resources.  Article 4, Section 52 of Michigan’s Constitution states:

The conservation and development of the natural resources of the state are hereby declared to be of paramount public concern in the interest of the health, safety and general welfare of the people.  The legislature shall provide for the protection of the air, water and other natural resources of the state from pollution, impairment and destruction.

Complementing this constitutional mandate is the Public Trust Doctrine, embodying a set of foundational principles, long recognized by law, that require proper stewardship of Great Lakes resources.  The doctrine creates a fiduciary responsibility of stewardship on the part of government for the preservation of these resources for the benefit of the public.  Described in Michigan jurisprudence as a “high, solemn and perpetual duty,” the Public Trust Doctrine creates a foundational, unifying, coherent legal framework for defining and prescribing rights, obligations, duties and responsibilities for protecting public resources that government – and the legislators behind HB 4205 – cannot ignore. 

Please encourage your friends and family to contact the eleven co-sponsors of HB 4205: 

Triston Cole – (primary), Jim Runestad, Aaron Miller, Kathy Crawford, Michele Hoitenga, Steven Johnson, Peter Lucido, Beau LaFave, Tom Barrett, Sue Allor, John Reilly.

Stanley “Skip” Pruss co-founded 5 Lakes Energy in 2010, specializing in energy policy and clean energy system development.