EPA Says It Will Take Climate Change Into Account When Funding Great Lakes Cleanup Projects

Funding For Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has Declined Since 2010

Groups working on reducing nutrient runoff into Green Bay, above, have a good chance of receiving more funding, according to an EPA spokesperson. Photo: Yu (CC-BY-NC-SA).

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says its next round of Great Lakes cleanup grants will take into account how climate change might affect various projects.

A second five-year period for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative appears to be in store starting this fall. But the EPA’s Cameron Davis noted that the funding declined from $475 million in fiscal year 2010 – the first year of the current round of the initiative – to about $300 million per year now.

Davis said groups that want clean-up money have to be prepared for little or no increase in the five years ahead.

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“What we’re doing with this action plan is recognizing the new fiscal reality that we’re in,” said Davis. “It looks to set an ambitious course for what we can achieve, knowing that $475 million is not a very likely scenario per year in the coming years.”

Davis also said that in response to an assessment of the initiative, the EPA is working on ways to make sure new grants go to projects that aren’t harmed by climate change.

“We plan to develop criteria that help show what resiliency would look like for various kinds of projects,” said Davis.

Davis also said that he anticipates continued major investments in reducing nutrient runoff to three priority watersheds in the Midwest, including the lower Fox River and Green Bay, “given the extreme ecological challenges we’ve seen with harmful algae and hypoxia in those waters.”

The EPA is taking public comment on a draft of its Great Lakes action plan for the next five years. It hopes to have the final plan ready by October 1.