Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Hoosiers to lobby Congress Thursday to fund Great Lakes programs

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Each year, Hoosiers travel to Washington, D.C., to urge Congress to maintain federal support of the agencies and programs working to restore and protect Lake Michigan.

This visit is part of Great Lakes Day, an annual affair sponsored by the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition and the Great Lakes Commission, in which more than 100 citizens visit Hill offices to underscore the importance of these natural assets and economic engines.

For more than 10 years, Save the Dunes, a governing member of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition, has helped recruit and train local community members and environmental professionals to represent Indiana and to share their personal message about why the Great Lakes matter.

Great Lakes Day is scheduled for Thursday, March 5.

“One of the best things about our region is Lake Michigan,” Save the Dunes Executive Director Natalie Johnson said. “It is important that we continue to be a positive voice for its protection as well as for the people who depend on it. This is achieved by encouraging Congressional leaders to fund the programs and agencies that keep our waters healthy.”

In mid-February, President Trump’s FY21 budget was released and proposed vast budget cuts that would lead to the loss of tens of millions of dollars for clean water programs in the Great Lakes. According to Save the Dunes, the proposed budget features the following:

--$863 million for the Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund to help communities pay for drinking water infrastructure: nearly $266 million less than in FY2020 (the current fiscal year).

--$1.12 billion for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund to help communities pay for sewer upgrades and repairs: nearly $500 million less than FY2020;

--An elimination of $171 million in non-point source pollution grants which the administration is looking to replace with a new $15 million program to combat toxic algal blooms.

--An elimination of the $25 million EPA grant for small and disadvantaged communities.

--An overall 27 percent cut to the U.S. EPA budget.

--$320 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to clean up toxic pollution, restore fish and wildlife habitat, and fight invasive species: the current funding in the budget.

On Great Lakes Day, nine Hoosiers will join citizens from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York “to speak about the proposed budget and to encourage federal public officials to increase and/or maintain important programming and agencies that clean up toxic pollution, reduce the risk of harmful algal blooms, stops invasive species, and ensures safe and affordable drinking water for all,” Save the Dunes said.

Save the Dunes hosts free advocacy trainings for the Indiana Dunes and Lake Michigan on a regular basis with the recruitment process for Great Lakes Day beginning in December of each year. To follow the Indiana team’s visit and to learn how to message locally, visit Facebook.com/savedunes or savedunes.org

 

 

Posted 3/4/2020

 
 
 
 

 

 

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