Former regional EPA administrator alarmed by proposed federal cuts for Puget Sound

by: Graham Johnson Updated:

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Environmental activists brought a giant orca and salmon to the Seattle waterfront Wednesday to show what's at stake from eliminating $28 million in federal funding a year for Puget Sound, as President Donald Trump proposed in his budget blueprint.

Dennis McLerran was among the speakers.

Until January, he ran the regional office of the Environmental Protection Agency for President Obama.

"The kind of cuts that are being proposed would be devastating," McLerran told KIRO 7.

President Trump proposes cutting the EPA budget by 31 percent.

An analysis by Gov. Jay Inslee's office finds the entirety of Puget Sound funding would be cut under the White House proposal.

Money for Puget Sound is mostly passed on to organizations, tribes, and scientists working on projects like restoring salmon habitat, which is critical for endangered orcas.

It also funds research, like the impact of urban growth on storm water pollution.

"If the federal dollars are taken away, some of the efforts that are really bearing fruit right now will lose momentum," said McLerran.

State Republican Sen. Doug Ericksen also works for the EPA.

When KIRO 7 asked him about cuts for Puget Sound, he replied, "We’re not commenting on that right now."

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