Why is it necessary to spend $35 million. For environmental justice projects in the Great Lakes?

projekty z zakresu sprawiedliwości środowiskowej

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced that 4 organizations will receive a total of $35 million. support for its activities. This will enable them to carry out environmental justice projects (understood as equal treatment of all people, regardless of race, color, origin or income) in the Great Lakes on the development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws. The effort is part of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI), which represents the most extensive investment in this area of the US in two decades. Their goal is to restore and protect the environment at the site of the largest freshwater resources in the United States, which are of significant economic and social importance to the country.

Why is it important to protect the North American Great Lakes?

The Great Lakes are a group of 5 reservoirs located in the central and eastern parts of North America. They account for 20 percent. of global freshwater and 81 percent of fresh resources of the North American continent. These include Lake Upper, Lake Huron, Lake Michigan, Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.

Together they are one of the main sources of drinking water in the US, and have a significant impact on the country’s economy, as well as the functioning of local communities and indigenous peoples. According to data released by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), nearly 25 percent of the Canadian, and 7 percent. US agricultural production comes specifically from the Great Lakes areas. The areas around them are inhabited by 30 million people, accounting for 10 percent. US population and 30 percent of the Canada’s population.

That’s why the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative was established in the United States to focus on 5 key issues that are the biggest threat to the region’s ecosystem. These include. toxic substances, the presence of invasive species, or the impact of pollution on the health of the population living near the lakes.

New EPA grant program will help implement local environmental justice projects in the Great Lakes region

One of the activities under the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is the EPA’s newly established grant program to facilitate access to federal funds. It was created under President Joe Biden’s Infrastructure Act and is designed to accelerate the restoration of the Great Lakes ecosystems and aid environmental protection in the area.

Through the program, local communities, represented by cities, tribes and nonprofit organizations, will be given the opportunity to apply for federal funds that they previously had no access to due to a lack of resources to apply for them and ways to oversee activities funded with them. Thus, they will carry out environmental justice projects in the Great Lakes that will not only improve their quality of life, but also make a positive contribution to the goals of the GLRI.

What environmental justice projects in the Great Lakes have received White House support?

The amount of $35 million. donated by the White House for the EPA’s new grant program has been divided among four applicants that will help local communities implement environmental justice projects in the Great Lakes. These will mainly concern measures to improve water quality, repair improperly constructed stormwater runoff systems, and clean up recreational and commercial waterways.

Applicants who will receive support from the EPA are:

  • Restore America’s Estuaries, an organization that implements efforts to protect and restore natural ecosystems in bays and estuaries. It will receive nearly $19.9 million. to develop and implement its own grant program, the beneficiaries of which will be local partners implementing river basin projects in the area;
  • Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper Inc, an organization working to protect the Great Lakes, which will receive $5.6 million. to support environmental justice projects in the Great Lakes located in western New York. They are primarily concerned with enhancing the potential of communities living in the Lake Erie and Niagara River catchment area, as well as restoring the Great Lakes ecosystem;
  • Ohio’s Lake Erie Commission, which will receive $5.8 million. for the development and subsequent implementation of an environmental justice grant program in the Lake Erie area, including measures to facilitate community access to its catchment area in Ohio;
  • The Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG), which deals with, among other things. Improving water quality in the region. It will receive $4.2 million. for the implementation of a grant program that will implement environmental justice projects in the Great Lakes, including measures aimed primarily at reducing the volume of stormwater runoff and building and connecting green infrastructure in the southeastern area of the state of Michigan.

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