President Donald Trump released his proposed budget for fiscal 2018, which would eliminate the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and drastically cut Environmental Protection Agency funding, a move that the National Marine Manufacturers Association opposes.
The budget, essentially a wish list, proposes a 31 percent cut in EPA funding, dropping the agency to $5.6 billion from $8.2 billion in 2017. Adjusted for inflation, that would represent the nation’s lowest funding for the agency since the mid-1970s.
The Associated Press reported that it would result in the elimination of 3,800 jobs while imposing drastic cuts to clean air and water programs.
“While we recognize the need for fiscal restraint in these challenging times, it is also our priority to make certain the cuts proposed do not put the federal government’s ability to protect our nation’s water ecosystem at great risk and U.S. manufacturers are able to remain competitive in the global marketplace,” NMMA federal and legal affairs vice president Nicole Vasilaros in a statement.
Proposed Department of Commerce cuts would result in the National Sea Grant College Program, Coastal Zone Management Program and Coastal Salmon Recovery Program shutting down.
The budget request includes $845 million for the National Marine Fisheries Service, a decrease of more than $107 million. The agency provides programs for the management and conservation of living marine resources, including fish stocks, marine mammals and endangered species and their habitats in the United States Exclusive Economic Zone.
“Boaters and industry businesses alike make significant contributions to the U.S. economy, generating billions in consumer spending and supporting more than 650,000 jobs,” Vasilaros said. “We must continue investing in our federal lands and waters to maintain public access, enjoyment and the necessary conservation of our nation’s treasured resources. We look forward to working with Congress to address the industry’s concerns and priorities to the benefit of the nation’s economy.”
The budget would fund the Department of Interior at $11.7 billion, about $1 billion below current levels, and prioritizes the infrastructure of public lands by increasing funding for national parks to address their deferred maintenance backlog.
It also decreases the Fish and Wildlife Service by $202.9 million to $2.8 billion; and decreases the National Park Service funding to $2.6 billion, a reduction of $296.6 million.
The NMMA said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would receive $5 billion, a 16 percent cut. Of the proposed funding, $1.02 billion would be allocated to the Corps of Engineeers’ construction account, which would be a 50 percent cut from fiscal 2017.
The investigations account would receive a nearly 29 percent cut, which could limit the ability of the Corps of Engineers to start the process of beginning new water resources projects, the NMMA said.
All revenue collected through the Inland Waterways Trust Fund would be used by the budget. The request also includes $75 million for the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan and $131 million for ecosystem restoration work in South Florida.
The majority of cuts made to the International Trade Administration would be in the Global Markets division, which is dedicated to promoting American exports around the globe. It would receive $293 million, compared with $336 million in 2017.
The State Trade Expansion Program is under the purview of the Small Business Administration and helps small businesses tap global markets and expand exports. Funding there would drop from $18 million to $10 million.
The proposed budget also includes $200 billion for infrastructure projects over 10 years, with the goal of creating $1 trillion in infrastructure investments met through some federal funding but also incentivized non-federal funding, as seen with public-private partnerships.