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U.S. Sen. Brown believes President Trump 'betrayed' Great Lakes region

Funding for enviromental programs could be eliminated under Trump administration

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D., Ohio) said this morning he believes President Trump has betrayed the Great Lakes region by trying to eliminate funding for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and other environmental programs, from climate change research to Ohio Sea Grant funding.

“It makes no economic sense. It’s just a betrayal,” Mr. Brown told reporters in the hallway of the National Museum of the Great Lakes before headed into a panel his office convened for him to hear more directly about such concerns from Lake Erie shoreline business leaders, fishermen, Toledo drinking water officials, academic researchers and others.

“The problem is you have a President and a White House who’s hostile to this,” Mr. Brown said.

He noted the Great Lakes region was an important part of the voting bloc that got Mr. Trump elected over his Democratic rival, former U.S. Sen. and former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of New York.

“To betray this region - and this is a betrayal - is just wrong,” he said.

Mr. Brown was joined at the news conference by Toledo Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson, who added that she and other members of the U.S. Conference of Mayors have grave concerns about Mr. Trump’s proposed budget cuts to environmental programs.

She agreed the Great Lakes region has been betrayed.

“They haven’t recognized the work that’s been done previously,” Ms. Hicks-Hudson said, adding that she believes Mr. Trump is “not engaged on this level to understand” the issues and how Lake Erie water quality impacts the economy.

She stayed to watch the first 40 minutes of a presentation made to Mr. Brown by 12-person panel. Several other city officials are making presentations, as are University of Toledo science and legal experts, a Cedar Point executive, Lake Erie tourism officials, Ohio Sea Grant, and others. About another dozen are in the room as observers.

“There is no difference between a healthy environment and a healthy economy in the Great Lakes region,” one of the panelists, Chris Winslow, Ohio Sea Grant and Ohio State University Stone Laboratory director, said.

A Cedar Point executive said Lake Erie’s water quality directly affects Cedar Fair’s decision on whether to invest money in Sandusky or one of its 11 other major parks from Canada to California.

“Everything that happens to the lake is critical to us. We're more than just roller coasters. The lake is part of our DNA,” Lee A. Alexakos, Cedar Fair vice president of community relations, said.

Contact Tom Henry at: thenry@theblade.com, 419-724-6079, or via Twitter @ecowriterohio.

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