In 1965, unlined wastewater lagoons holding chemical sludge spilled contaminants into a nearby tributary stream of Muskegon Lake, separated only by dunes from Lake Michigan.
In the years that followed, Kathy Evans would eat the fish her father caught out of the lake. But not all of them. While cleaning his catch, Evans’ father would toss a few fish in the trash — the smell of chemicals and petroleum was too strong to stomach.
Today, Muskegon Lakes’ fish are designated as safe to eat as other lakes in the region thanks partly to millions of dollars in federal funding. But the funding that saved Muskegon Lake and dozens of other Michigan waterways is in jeopardy under the Trump administration’s 2018 budget, which proposes cutting the $300 million Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to zero.
In a move that threatens Michigan’s ecology and economy, the White House on Thursday proposed to slash Environmental Protection Agency funding by 31 percent and go further to eliminate the GLRI, which was reported earlier this month to see a cut of 97 percent in early budget speculation.