Pay Attention. Get Loud. Save the Lakes.

Monday motivation! Let’s get to it. This year is moving along even though we have the black cloud of an administration and a Ryan/McConnell congress hanging over head. At times it seems that no matter how many calls we make, no matter how loud we yell in the street, no matter how many letters we send, policies are still going to pass that are set to destroy our democracy and destroy our environment. Chief strategist Bannon has stated, on more than one occasion, that their cabinet picks were chosen to dismantle their agencies. He is on record saying that he wants to destroy what we know as government and have the whole thing come crashing down. But, nevertheless, we will persist. Because while our president and his staff may have plans to cut everything that makes this country clean and great, we have to keep our eyes open and our voices being heard.

As of now there is proposed funding  to cut the EPA of almost $2 billion, which includes about 3,000 jobs lost. Clean drinking water? Clean lakes and rivers? People are clamoring for coal jobs, is all that coal ash allowed back in our rivers and streams? If you don’t live in Flint, MI it may seem like a story that doesn’t affect you. But the lead levels in our drinking water will be at risk with the cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency. And Flint, Michigan is still without clean drinking water. Still.

Speaking of Michigan, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative  is set to go from $300 million to only $10 million/year when this multi-billion dollar cut to EPA is approved. With that, the Great Lakes will suffer possibly beyond repair. And not only just the water in those lakes but everyone who surrounds them as well. And which states will mostly be affected? Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania. While these states gave trump a victory, he isn’t helping their quality of life in the slightest bit. Having grown up on a Great Lake I know that fishing and swimming and boating are among the activities that residents like to take advantage of when having the convenience of a Great Lake in your neighborhood. You want to be able to go fly kites, watch sunsets, have picnics. But with this proposed funding cut the mercury levels will not be able to be controlled; and the fish will get to dangerous levels if consumed by humans. The appeal of tourism will be shot if the waters are not clean and the parks surrounding it not well-kept.

No matter your partisan views, it’s time to write and/or call your senators and representatives and tell them that you do not approve such a drastic cut to the EPA and you can not sit back while the Great Lakes Suffer. It is your drinking water. It is a source of your food. It serves as educational and recreational outlets which provides tourism and keeps your economy alive. With these cuts to the Great Lakes, also comes cuts to US Fish & Wildlife Services. “Presque Isle State Park is one of the most important migratory stopover areas in North America.  Its’ 3,200 acres provides a large area of wetlands and undeveloped shoreline (e.g., beach dunes and shrubs) that maintains high habitat quality for waterfowl, waterbirds and shorebirds.” The city home to Presque Isle State Park is struggling to keep its public schools open. How will they afford to keep their peninsula clean? To keep their state park maintained? How will they keep from waste being dumped into the water? If the fish they catch have such high levels of mercury, why would anyone travel there to fish? Without the appeal of tourism, restaurants and hotels will shut down. More jobs will be lost. The economy will move further behind. And Erie, Pennsylvania isn’t the only place affected by the condition of its lake’s water. The decline of Lake Erie is something both Pennsylvania and Ohio have been combatting for years. Ohio covers the bulk of Lake Erie and it provides drinking water to about 11 million residents. Not far back, in 2014, the city of Toledo had to cut their water supply off for three days due to toxic algae in the water. Luckily they were able to pinpoint and rid the problem from the water before it became a seemingly permanent condition much like the residents of Flint, MI are living with. A special adviser for the Ohio Sea Grant program is on record saying “if we lose the EPA, we lose Lake Erie.” Losing Lake Erie means losing drinking water to roughly 11 million people.

This won’t stop at the Great Lakes. In the short time this administration has been in office they’ve shown that they push hard to see how much can be bypassed. They make outlandish cuts that are so shocking people don’t even know how to react. But let this be motivation for you. Pick up your phone and make the calls that need to be heard. Write down what you want to say beforehand and you’ll feel more prepared and appear more confident in your tone. Write an email. Write a letter. Send them. Send postcards. Educate others. Pay attention. No matter who you voted for in the past election I do not believe you want to live in a wasteland. I believe you want clean water. Clean food would be amazing! As out of control as it can seem at times, we have to take responsibility for some of it. Pick your battles. Show your passion. You’ve got to fight for what’s right and fight to keep our country moving forward.

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