EPA Projects Work to Be Completed at 22 of 25 Remaining Great Lakes “Areas of Concern” by 2030
February 17, 2022
President Biden, EPA $1 Billion Investment from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Will Accelerate Cleanup Efforts and Benefit Ohio
EPA Projects Work to Be Completed at 22 of 25 Remaining Great Lakes “Areas of Concern” by 2030
Contact: Taylor Gillespie, [email protected]
CHICAGO (Feb. 17, 2021) – Today, President Biden and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael S. Regan will announce that as a direct result of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, EPA will make significant progress in the clean-up and restoration of the Great Lakes’ most environmentally degraded sites, securing clean water and a better environment for millions of Americans in the Great Lakes region. The agency will use the bulk of the $1 billion investment in the Great Lakes from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to clean up and restore severely degraded sites, known as “Areas of Concern” or AOCs. This will allow for a major acceleration of progress that will deliver significant environmental, economic, health, and recreational benefits for communities in Ohio and throughout the Great Lakes region.
“The Great Lakes are a vital economic engine and an irreplaceable environmental wonder, supplying drinking water for more than 40 million people, supporting more than 1.3 million jobs, and sustaining life for thousands of species. Through the investments from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we will make unprecedented progress in our efforts to restore and protect the waters and the communities of the Great Lakes basin,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “Building a better America means investing in our natural resources and the communities they support.”
White House Senior Advisor and Infrastructure Implementation Coordinator Mitch Landrieu said, “With this investment, President Biden is delivering major environmental, public health, and economic wins for the Great Lakes region. Building a better America requires us to confront legacy pollution and clean up the environment – ensuring our kids drink clean water and creating good-paying jobs in the process. We know that cleaning up these waterways and improving the health of the Great Lakes will also create great economic opportunities for communities across the eight-state region and beyond.”
In 2018, an independent economic study from the Great Lakes Commission and the University of Michigan found that every Great Lakes Restoration Initiative dollar spent produces an additional $3.35 of economic activity. For older industrial cities, including AOCs such as Buffalo and Detroit, the study found that there may be more than $4 in additional economic activity for each federal dollar spent. A 2020 analysis of the Great Lakes determined that the region supports more than 1.3 million jobs, generating $82 billion in wages annually.
EPA projects that the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding, combined with funds from annual Great Lakes Restoration Initiative appropriations and funding from other sources, will, between now and the end of 2030, enable the Agency and its partners to bring work to completion across 22 of the 25 remaining AOCs, with Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding directly supporting 11 of these sites. In sum this will leave only three of the original 31 U.S. AOCs with work remaining, with those sites also benefiting from Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding. In the coming months, EPA will release more detailed information on implementation of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding for the Great Lakes.
Great Lakes AOCs in Ohio where work is expected to be completed by 2030 include: Black River, OH; Cuyahoga River, OH; Maumee, OH.
EPA will award this funding in accordance with the Biden Administration’s Justice40 Initiative, which promises to deliver at least 40 percent of the overall benefits from key federal investments to underserved communities. The effort also supports President Biden’s America the Beautiful initiative, which includes commitments to honor the nation’s conservation traditions, private property rights, the sovereignty of Tribal Nations, and the values and priorities of local communities.
In addition to support from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law directed toward cleaning up the AOCs, EPA will continue the agency’s work to address other key issues such as addressing harmful algal blooms, nutrient reduction activities, protecting against invasive species, and monitoring the health of the Great Lakes. EPA anticipates additional resources could be available for these and other priorities because of the infusion of resources from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
“Lake Erie provides drinking water for 11 million people. We must do all we can to keep it healthy for them, and for the businesses, families, boaters, and anglers that rely on the lake,” said Sen. Sherrod Brown. “Thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and funding we secured for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, we are continuing one of our most successful environmental programs. Today’s announcement ensures the continued renewal and protection of Lake Erie and its tributaries for today and for the next generation.”
“This is great news for Ohio. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has provided nearly $3 billion for more than 6,000 projects in Ohio and throughout the Great Lakes Basin, helping address the greatest threats facing Lake Erie and the Great Lakes, such as harmful algal blooms, invasive species, pollution, and habitat degradation,” said Sen. Rob Portman. “Lake Erie provides clean drinking water for millions of Ohioans and is a key part of the economy for many Ohio communities by supporting hundreds of thousands of jobs and attracting millions of visitors to the region each year. Thanks to the bipartisan infrastructure law, this additional $1 billion for the GLRI will go a long way in strengthening our Great Lakes preservation and restoration efforts.”
“The Great Lakes are an essential natural resource, not only for our community and state, but for the entire country. One of the world’s greatest freshwater assets, the Great Lakes serve as a source of fresh drinking water as well as an economic engine for our country,” said Rep. Anthony Gonzalez. “Today’s $1 billion investment ensures we have the resources needed to preserve the Great Lakes and leave our waterways better off for the next generation.”
“I’m proud to have fought to pass the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which will make a historic investment into protecting Lake Erie and revitalizing our local economies through the creation of good-paying jobs,” said Rep. Tim Ryan. “The Great Lakes are our region’s most precious resource, supporting thousands of full-time jobs and providing clean drinking water to Ohioans. We must do everything in our power to safeguard the health and well-being of the Great Lakes for future generations of Ohioans and Americans.”
“The city of Cleveland has a history of pioneering sustainability as the birthplace of Environmental Protection Agency and this $1 billion investment from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law advances our leadership in environment justice,” said Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb. “Cities like Cleveland are primed for infrastructure investment as we become a destination for climate migration and population growth, with our proximity to water and an abundance of natural resources. Investments in restoring and protecting our Great Lakes are an investment in our future.”
The City of Lorain was once a mighty shipbuilding, steel, and automotive manufacturing community located where the Black River meets Lake Erie, 30 miles west of Cleveland, Ohio. Decades of decline and the loss of thousands of factory jobs have left persistent poverty, brownfields and socio-economic challenges; but the people of Lorain are resilient, hard-working and ready to build a better America,” said Lorain Mayor Jack Bradley. “The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will help with the restoration of its waterfront and the Lake Erie ecosystem; revitalize acres of brownfields; and, improve transportation infrastructure to connect our citizens and businesses with economic opportunity. Lorain appreciates the leadership of President Joe Biden in helping Lorain to build back better.”
“This is another sign of Ohio’s and America’s comeback. By restoring our waterfronts and cleaning our water from the legacy industries that existed decades ago, we open the door for new development that we can build back smarter and more sustainable,” said Elyria Mayor Frank Whitfield. “Through federal, state, and local partnerships like this, there is no limit to what Ohio will accomplish over the next decade. In Elyria, we see this moment we have as a once in a generation that we will continue to work across all lines on behalf of our children’s children’s future.”
“Lake Erie is a tremendous asset for all of Ohio. People love to walk or take a bike ride along the shore, enjoy a boat ride, fish, or just take in a beautiful view. The Lake is also a commercial gem. Many businesses require huge quantities of fresh water, which Lake Erie provides. And the Lake serves as a test bed for water solution technology,” said Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish. “All of these benefits go away if the Lake is not protected. We must keep the Lake clean, free of algal blooms, and protected from invasive species. We truly appreciate the resources provided by Congress and the Administration under the bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The benefits of this new law will last for generations.”
“As a county with 23 miles of shoreline, we welcome and greatly appreciate President Biden’s push for a healthy Lake Erie. We love our lake,” said Lorain County Ohio Board of Commissioners President Matt Lundy. “Our neighboring rivers and streams along with our own feed into our precious lake. We all benefit when areas of concern are cleaned up and restored. This will be a positive impact for our families and future generations.”
To see the full list of Areas of Concerns and anticipated work completion and delisting dates please visit: https://www.epa.gov/great-lakes-aocs/list-great-lakes-aocs