Restoring The Great Lakes
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has begun to award its competitive grants under President Barack Obama's Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which is targeting the most significant environmental problems in the region. EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson traveled to Toledo, Ohio and Green Bay, Wisconsin today to highlight several local projects that received funding in the first round of grant awards.
"These grants are a long-overdue investment in a place that is home to millions of Americans, billions of dollars in economic activity, and 95 percent of our nation's fresh surface water. It's essential that we act today, and set a new standard of care for the next generation," said Jackson. "President Obama has made protecting the Great Lakes a national priority. EPA is investing in a diverse network of partners to put boots on the ground and boats in the water to begin this historic Great Lakes restoration effort."
Awards will be published on the multi-agency website at //greatlakesrestoration.us.
Funded projects will advance the goals and objectives of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Action Plan, which EPA Administrator Jackson announced in cooperation with 15 other participating agencies and the Great Lakes governors in February.
The Great Lakes provide some 30 million Americans with drinking water and underpin a multi-billion dollar economy. Since February 2009, President Obama has proposed significant funding as part of his Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the largest investment in the Great Lakes in two decades.
The initiative action plan, which covers FY 2010 through 2014, was developed by a task force of 16 federal departments and agencies to implement the president's historic initiative. It was released with the Great Lakes area governors in February 2010 and calls for aggressive efforts to address five urgent priority focus areas:
- Cleaning up toxics and toxic hot spot areas of concern;
- Combating invasive species;
- Promoting nearshore health by protecting watersheds from polluted run-off;
- Restoring wetlands and other habitats; and
- Working with strategic partners on outreach.
The plan also provides accountability by including measures of progress and benchmarks for success over the next five years.
The Great Lakes Interagency Task Force to coordinate federal restoration efforts is chaired by EPA Administrator Jackson and includes:
- White House Council on Environmental Quality
- U.S. Department of Agriculture
- U.S. Department of Commerce
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
- U.S. Department of Homeland Security
- U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
- U.S. Department of State
- U.S. Department of the Army
- U.S. Department of Interior
- U.S. Department of Transportation
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Some of the other federal agencies that are part of the task force have their own grant programs under the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. Today's announcement only covers EPA's grant program.
More information on the president's initiative and action plan: //www.greatlakesrestoration.us