President Donald Trump's budget blueprint paints grim picture for Great Lakes

Port of Cleveland (Source: WOIO)
Port of Cleveland (Source: WOIO)

DOWNTOWN CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - A program that aims to clean up the Great Lakes could be in jeopardy. It's facing drastic cuts under President Donald Trump's budget blueprint.

The cuts could really hit northeast Ohio hard.

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are fighting against the cuts. The Great Lakes could lose 97 percent of their federal funding for cleanup, from $300 million every year down to $10 million -- that could impact the quality of the water in Lake Erie.

On Wednesday, a sunny March day, people flocked to Edgewater Park on Lake Erie. Erich Schnack said he's worried about the lake's future.

"There's a common saying that goes, 'We do not inherit the earth from our fathers, we borrow it from our children.' And this is a notion I really
believe in," he said.

He's talking about the President's proposed budget plan that would cut millions in federal funding from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

"It seems like we're turning back the gears at least 50, 60 years of progress," Schnack said.

In the America First blueprint, it says: "The budget returns the responsibility for funding local environmental efforts and programs to State and local
entities, allowing EPA to focus on its highest national priorities."

Right now those projects to clean up the lakes are in full force on Lake Erie.

The Port of Cleveland uses federal dollars to fund its cleanup program. Jade Davis is the Vice President of External Affairs for the port.

"You'll oftentimes see these Port of Cleveland flotsam and jetsam boats coming and picking up debris. These boats are picking up logs, I mean we're looking at hundreds of thousands of tons of debris that we've been able to harvest and pick up," Davis said.

Davis sees how much just their program helps keep the lake clean.

Lake Erie supplies drinking water, fishing, tourism, and jobs. Davis says 20,000 jobs are tied to the port alone.

"I think everyone should be concerned about any kind of developments that may damage that improvement progress," he said.

Sen. Sherrod Brown's office says he is working with Sen. Rob Portman and other Great Lakes senators to prevent cuts this year and in the future.

This is not a final version of the administration's 2018 budget. It will go to Congress next.

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