EPA Celebrates Progress Made in Federally Funded Great Lakes Restoration Efforts

EPA Celebrates Progress Made in Federally Funded Great Lakes Restoration Efforts

Federal and local leaders noted the significant progress in environmental restoration and economic revitalization of the area.

Efforts to restore the Great Lakes are transforming Cleveland and other Lake Erie shoreline communities, as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) gathered to highlight. EPA Region 5 Administrator Debra Shore was joined by fellow administrators Lisa Garcia (Region 2) and Adam Ortiz (Region 3), Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb and other partners to shine a light on the progress made thanks to substantial federal funding and collaborative efforts.

“After decades of industrial and economic growth, Cleveland's waterways — like many in the Great Lakes Region — struggled to overcome the legacy pollution left behind,” Shore said in a statement. “Thanks to an all-of-government approach and the unprecedented federal funding from the Biden Administration’s Investing in America agenda, Cleveland and many other Midwest communities are working to retire the ‘rust-belt’ label once and for all.” 

Millions of dollars from the Biden Administration and EPA have been allocated to Great Lakes cities, aiding in environmental justice and revitalization efforts. Mayor Justin Bibb emphasized the positive impact of a clean and thriving waterfront on the city’s potential, recreational opportunities, tourism and business development.

The EPA's collaborative work with state and local partners has led to significant improvements in the Cuyahoga River and Lake Erie. Recently, the EPA announced Great Lakes Environmental Justice Grants, funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, to further these efforts. The Ohio Lake Erie Commission, along with the Black Environmental Leaders Network, received a $5.8 million grant to support underserved communities in Ohio's Lake Erie watershed.

“Because Lake Erie is one of Ohio’s greatest resources, providing drinking water to over 2.8 million people in Ohio and generating over $17 billion in travel and tourism for the state, Governor DeWine and the General Assembly invested in the H2Ohio initiative to ensure clean and safe water for Ohio,” Ohio Lake Erie Commission Director Joy Mulinex said in a statement.

Jocelyn Travis, Board President of the Black Environmental Leaders Network, expressed excitement about the partnership with the Ohio Lake Erie Commission and Rural Action. She highlighted the importance of addressing systemic environmental injustices and ensuring equitable resource access for disadvantaged communities.

The EPA's multiday tour to observe redevelopment efforts includes stops in Ashtabula, Erie, Pennsylvania, and Buffalo, New York. Since 2010, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has funded over 7,500 projects, totaling more than $3.7 billion.

About the Author

Robert Yaniz Jr. is the Content Editor for Environmental Protection.