After Hurricanes Harvey and Irma recently pummeled our coasts, Environment Michigan warned that pending budget proposals from the Trump administration and Congress threaten key programs that protect our communities from storm- related impacts. The group documented threats to programs that prevent or curb flooding, sewage overflows and leaks from toxic waste sites. Environment Michigan also called for preventing more global warming-fueled extreme weather in the future.
“If there is any lesson to be learned from these devastating hurricanes, it’s that Michigan deserves better shelter from the storms,” said Callie Rouse from Environment Michigan. “Rather than protecting our most vulnerable communities, budget proposals on the table in Washington, D.C. right now threaten coastal resiliency, remove protections for flood-absorbing wetlands, neglect funding for stormwater and sewage treatment, and expose more Americans to toxic chemicals,” she added.
Environment Michigan’s analysis found:
- Wetlands are nature’s flood control, and here in Michigan we have 5.5 million acres of wetlands. The House budget and Trump administration block the Clean Water Rule, leaving flood-absorbing wetlands more vulnerable to pollution and degradation.
- Here in Michigan we receive 2.62 million in grants that allow our communities to protect their coasts from storms. These funds would be cut or eliminated under both the House and Trump administration’s budgets.
- The Trump budget proposed massive cuts to NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research. This office is responsible for financing cutting edge research into our changing climate through its competitively funded climate research. Under the Trump budget, over $1,300,000 would be cut, cutting off funds to universities and other institutes researching how our coasts can best adapt to changing oceans and climates.
- The Clean Water State Revolving Fund provided $57.4 million in 2016 for Michigan to repair and build stormwater and sewage treatment infrastructure. Nationwide, our wastewater systems face a $271 billion backlog, yet the House and President’s spending bills fail to provide proper funding to this critical program.
Public health professional and Ecology Center Health Outreach Coordinator Mara Herman said, “Without strong environmental protections, the health of Michiganders and our access to clean and safe water, shelter and security will be put directly at risk.”
Ann Arbor City Councilor Chip Smith stressed the importance of the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, “Local governments across Michigan are increasingly cash-strapped. The Clean Water Revolving loan Fund is often the only financially viable tool they have to make critical infrastructure upgrades.”
Herman later added, “President Trump and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt have already shown they’re committed to slamming the brakes on progress. Proposed budget cuts are intended to further weaken environmental protections at the behest of industry, and at the expense of us, the people.” She stressed that national elected officials needed to stand up against them.
“We need to make our communities less susceptible to flooding, sewage overflows, and leaks from toxic waste sites, and of course we need to prevent even more intense global warming-fueled extreme weather in the future. We’re counting on Senators Stabenow and Peters to protect Michiganders and pass a budget that puts our families’ health and community's safety first; one that will give Michiganders more shelter from the storms ahead,” Rouse concluded.
Callie Rouse can be contacted at 641-790-7966 or firstname.lastname@example.org.