Great Lakes – Numerous agencies and approximately 140 federal programs operate on behalf of the Great Lakes. Of particular significance, the president's fiscal 2006 budget fully funds the Great Lakes Legacy program at $50.0 million; this equates to an increase of $27.5 million, and more than doubles the level funded by Congress in fiscal 2005. The president's proposed budget also includes $2.0 million in the Department of Commerce for a new Great Lakes Restoration Office, which will be housed in the Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab and will assist with the on-going regional collaboration efforts under the May 2004 Executive Order. At this time, the office's specific objectives are not known.
The president increases funding for the Great Lakes Fishery Commission to $14.0 million, a $1.0 million boost over fiscal 2005 levels. The St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation's budget remains level at $17.0 million, however only $8.0 million will be provided by the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund. The administration cuts by 21.3 percent - from $80.0 million to $63.0 million - the budget for the Corps of Engineers' navigation work in the Great Lakes. Other Corps cuts include a $1.34 million decrease in the Great Lakes Navigation Study. The Great Lakes Fishery Ecosystem Restoration program, section 401 Remedial Action Plan assistance, and the Soo Lock Replacement project were all unfunded. In general, the budget offers insufficient information to determine the funding status of several key programs, including EPA's Great Lakes National Program Office and NOAA's Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab.
Invasive Species Prevention and Control – The president’s fiscal 2006 budget appears to provide little relief against the onslaught of invasive species arriving in and damaging aquatic resources in the Northeast-Midwest region, and nationally. The budget would cut the entire $3.5 million Congress provided in fiscal 2005 for ballast treatment technology development, a priority for preventing new introductions of aquatic invasive species. The budget also provides no funding in fiscal 2006 for Sea Grant research on aquatic invasive species. The president’s budget offers level funding for the United States Geological Survey’s meager research and information management efforts involving aquatic invasive species ($3 million). A slight positive development is the $2-million increase (to total $2.5 million) for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s programs to implement the National Invasive Species Act. However, this funding will be devoted almost entirely to monitoring and controlling those organisms already established in United States waters, rather than prevention.
The budget does not provide sufficient detail to determine any proposed changes to the United States Coast Guard’s operating funds that support enforcement of its newly expanded ballast water management requirements.
As budget details become available over the coming days, the Northeast-Midwest Institute will provide additional information and analysis.