After Hurricanes Harvey and Irma recently pummeled U.S. coasts, Wisconsin Environment warned that pending budget proposals from the Trump administration and Congress threaten key programs that protect our communities from storm-related impacts. The group documented threats to programs that prevent or curb flooding, sewage overflows and leaks from toxic waste sites. Wisconsin Environment also called for preventing more global warming-fueled extreme weather in the future.
“If there is any lesson to be learned from these devastating hurricanes, it’s that Wisconsin deserves better shelter from the storms,” said Marion Kinosian from Wisconsin Environment. “Rather than protecting our most vulnerable communities, budget proposals on the table in Washington, D.C. right now threaten coastal and shoreline resiliency, remove protections for flood-absorbing wetlands, neglect funding for stormwater and sewage treatment, and expose more Americans to toxic chemicals.”
Wisconsin Environment’s analysis found:
● Wetlands are nature’s flood control, and here in Wisconsin we have 5.4 million acres of wetlands. The House budget and Trump administration block the Clean Water Rule, leaving flood-absorbing wetlands more vulnerable to pollution and degradation.
● Here in Wisconsin we receive $1.7 million in grants that allow our communities to protect their shorelines from storms. These funds would be cut or eliminated under both the House and Trump administration’s budgets.
● One in four Americans live within 3 miles of a Superfund site, the most toxic waste sites in the country. Wisconsin has 55 such sites, and the Superfund program is tasked with cleaning up these sites, responding to environmental crises, and protecting the public from hazardous substances, but the Trump administration has proposed cutting the Superfund program by nearly one-third.
“Like all moms, I want the places where our families live, work, and play to be free from pollution and hazardous waste,” said Kelly Nichols of Moms Clean Air Force. “As busy moms, we have little free time, and we surely don’t want to spend it having to constantly demand awareness of the pollution that keeps us from feeling like our children are safe in our neighborhoods.”
Southeastern Wisconsin experienced severe flooding last July.
Doctor Claire Gervais added, “We can’t ignore that climate change increases the risk of these natural disasters, thus climate change is a matter of public health. According to WI Dept of Health Services, WI is becoming warmer and wetter, which suggests flooding may become much more likely and intense. The World Health Organization estimates tens of thousands of lives are lost annually from heat and extreme weather.”
“We need to make our communities less susceptible to flooding, sewage overflows, and leaks from toxic waste sites, and of course we need to prevent even more intense global warming-fueled extreme weather in the future,” Kinosian added. “We’re counting on U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin and Ron Johnson to protect Wisconsinites and pass a budget that puts our families’ health and community's safety first; one that will give Wisconsin more shelter from the storms ahead.”