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President Joe Biden announced Thursday his bipartisan infrastructure law will pump $1 billion of funding into the cleanup and restoration of the Great Lakes.
Watch Biden’s remarks in the player above.
“It’s going to allow the most significant restoration of the Great Lakes in the history of the Great Lakes,” Biden said in a speech in Lorain, Ohio.
The infusion from the bipartisan deal will enable agencies by 2030 to finish work on 22 sites designated a quarter-century ago as among the region’s most degraded.
The lakes provide drinking water for 40 million people and underpin the economy in eight Northeastern and Midwestern states and two Canadian provinces. They fueled a 20th century industrial boom that generated wealth and jobs but caused ecological devastation.
The U.S. and Canada listed 43 sites — 31 of them in the U.S. — as toxic hot spots in 1987, largely because of contaminated sediments that make the waters unsuitable for fishing, swimming and other uses.
But while cleanup plans were crafted, they languished with little funding until the Obama administration kicked off the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative in 2010.
“For decades, there was a lot of talk, a lot of plans, but very little progress. It was slow. That changes today,” Biden said.
It’s been one of the few matters on which the region’s congressional Democrats and Republicans routinely agree. They thwarted President Donald Trump’s early efforts to gut the program, which GOP lawmakers from Michigan eventually persuaded him to support.
Wrapping up his speech, Biden said he had to leave Ohio quickly because of pending weather and “a little thing going on in Europe right now.”
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