President Biden, EPA $1 Billion Investment from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Will Accelerate Cleanup Efforts and Benefit Minnesota
EPA Projects Work to Be Completed at 22 of 25 Remaining Great Lakes “Areas of Concern” by 2030
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 Minnesota 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.
EPA expects work to be completed by 2030 in the St. Louis River Area of Concern.
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.
“The Great Lakes are a major part of Minnesotans’ way of life, providing clean drinking water, a home for fish and wildlife, and opportunities for outdoor recreation,” said Sen. Amy Klobuchar. “This critical investment will help accelerate progress toward fully delisting the St. Louis River Area of Concern in Duluth-Superior, while also combatting threats such as environmental degradation and invasive species. As one of the vice-chairs of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force, I’ll keep fighting to ensure Minnesotans can continue to safely enjoy the Great Lakes for years to come.”
“For thousands of years, people have treasured Lake Superior and the rest of the Great Lakes chain,” said Sen. Tina Smith. “They are important to many—including the Native American communities that have long lived near them, tourists who visit them for outdoor recreation, and industries that rely on them for shipping. As a direct result of our work on the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we now have an opportunity to make enormous progress in our efforts to clean up and restore the Great Lakes’ most environmentally degraded sites.”
“This historic, once-in-a-generation investment in environmental justice is much needed and long overdue,” said Rep. Betty McCollum. “The Great Lakes are vital fresh water resources, and cleaning up these areas of legacy pollution is a priority for me and all of the communities and Tribal Nations benefiting from this critical restoration effort. These federal dollars will strengthen communities and deliver real results.”
“I would like to thank the EPA for continuing to prioritize the clean-up and restoration needs of the Saint Louis River,” said Duluth Mayor Emily Larson. “The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is not only great for the environment, but it has also positively impacted Duluth’s economy with redevelopment opportunities and increased recreational experiences for the public. This funding will continue to increase accessibility along the river and ensure that residents and visitors can enjoy this beautiful place for generations to come.”
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