House panel wants deep cut in Great Lakes program

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — Federal programs aimed at some of the Great Lakes’ most longstanding ecological problems would lose about 80 percent of their funding under a spending plan approved by a Republican-controlled U.S. House panel.

The bill approved Tuesday would spend $60 million on the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, nearly 80 percent less than the $285 million in this year’s budget.

The program is designed to make progress on some of the region’s most longstanding ecological problems, including invasive species, harbors polluted with toxic sediments, harmful algae blooms and loss of wildlife habitat.

Leaders of groups that support the initiative say the cut would devastate a program that has enjoyed bipartisan support in Congress.

The bill also proposes an 80 percent cut in a loan fund for local sewer system upgrades.

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