Lavora Barnes: Trump has broken his promises on the Great Lakes

Lake Superior | Canva

Next week, when Donald Trump kicks off his reelection, he will try to make his case to Michigan and the country that he deserves another four years in the Oval Office.

Donald Trump | Gage Skidmore, Flickr

Here’s one major problem for him: We haven’t forgotten his atrocious record on the environment, especially his particularly blatant broken promise to support our Great Lakes.

When Trump was first running, he came to Warren, Mich., and assured us that he would prioritize protecting our natural resources, telling the crowd that his administration “will work to restore and protect the Great Lakes.”

It was an easy applause line, since Michiganders are rightfully proud to live in a state where you’re never more than 15 minutes from a body of water and where thousands of us make a living and support families working in the fishing and tourism industry.  

The truth about Trump’s environmental record shows us he’ll say one thing on the campaign trail, while his actions in office, particularly when it comes to Michigan, are the exact opposite.

Lake Michigan | Canva

While that is no surprise at this point, it doesn’t change the fact that people’s lives and livelihoods are on the line and our state’s precious natural resources are continually under threat from the Trump administration.

His administration has submitted three different spending proposals to Congress, and each one has included major cuts to, or outright elimination of, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. The initiative accounts for around $300 million in federal funding and provides essential services to maintain the Great Lakes.

But that hasn’t stopped Trump from trying to gut this critical program year after year.

Reps. slam Trump budget wiping out Great Lakes funding by 90%


And in case there’s any confusion, let’s be clear about what that Great Lakes funding goes towards helping — goals that both Democrats and Republicans care about and have consistently supported.

The program aims to achieve long-term clean drinking water and safe fish to eat and export. It controls invasive species, protects native habitats and eliminates dangerous algal blooms.

For the eight states, plus Canada, that are affected by the Great Lakes, these aren’t optional projects. They are essential to the economy and the health of these communities, and our own, and they should never have been on the chopping block in the first place.  

It wasn’t until he was faced with the backlash during a visit to Grand Rapids in March that Trump tried to reverse his position, claiming he supported the Great Lakes and would fund the initiative. But this convenient reversal doesn’t change the facts: Trump has attacked the funding at every turn, and his administration’s policies are hurting the environment.

Trump promises $300M for Great Lakes, otherwise mostly rambles

As U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Flint) put it at the time, “The president claiming to support the Great Lakes is like an arsonist congratulating themselves for putting out a fire they started.”

It’s not enough that his administration has put oil and gas industry insiders at the helm at the Environmental Protection Agency — more than once. Or that they have rolled back regulations on polluters, making it easier for them to get away with poisoning our air and drinking water.

Creative Commons

Or that he’s proposed massive cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, touted a tax scam that enriched corporations at the expense of workers, and repeatedly lied about an alleged tariff deal.

When it comes to the issues that matter to Michiganders, Donald Trump has broken his promises again and again. Voters here have noticed, and we will hold him and his acolytes like U.S. Senate candidate John James, accountable next November — because Trump’s promises may be worth nothing, but his actions could cost Michigan everything.


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