While advocates are still fighting for this year’s round of Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding, a federal budget official indicated that next year’s round is already on the chopping block.
Congress approved $475 million for the restoration initiative in 2010, the program’s first year. President Obama requested only $300 million for the program in the 2011 budget, which Congress still hasn’t approved. As budget talks ramp up, some Republicans have singled out the EPA – which administers the restoration initiative – as ripe for cuts.
The expectation was that the program would bounce back to $475 million in 2012. That’s no longer the case, according to a New York Times op-ed in which Jacob Lew, the director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, foreshadows deep cuts in the budget that the President will release in the next few weeks.
“Another difficult cut is a reduction of $125 million, or about a quarter of current financing, to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which supports environmental cleanup and protection,” Lew wrote.
That should leave the 2012 GLRI funding request at $350 million, which is still higher than the $300 requested this year. Yet the goals of the EPA’s Great Lakes Action Plan – a five-year road map of restoration benchmarks – are “premised on an assumption that $300 million will be appropriated in FY 2011, and $475 million in subsequent years.”