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Higgins announces $44 million Buffalo River project to proceed

by jmaloni

Press release

Thu, Apr 18th 2013 12:15 pm

Congressman recently asked for public/private clean-up effort to be a federal priority

Congressman Brian Higgins, NY-26, received confirmation that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has authorized $22 million for the next stage of Buffalo River restoration. The federal funding will be matched dollar for dollar by a consortium of non-federal funding partners, through a partnership agreement between the Honeywell Corporation and Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper, for a combined $44 million project.

"This commitment of federal funding provides the green light to a project that has both ecological and economic consequences that will benefit Western New York for generations to come," said Higgins, a member of the congressional Great Lakes task force. "We appreciate the EPA's recognition of its importance and applaud the efforts of those supporting the rebirth of the Buffalo River locally."

"Honeywell is proud to be working in partnership with the Great Lakes National Program Office of EPA, the Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper, the DEC, and the Army Corps on a cleanup that reflects the community's vision of a restored Buffalo River. The remediation utilizes each partner's knowledge, resources and expertise and could be a catalyst for economic development as well as expanded recreational opportunities. We appreciate Congressman Higgins' leadership in ensuring that critical federal funds are secure," said Jay Kelly, Honeywell Buffalo Research Lab site leader.

"Riverkeeper commends the U.S. EPA for authorizing the project to move forward, said Jill Jedlicka, Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper executive director. "We thank Congressman Higgins and our restoration partners for their unwavering commitment to the Buffalo River, and our hopeful that this decision will allow our team to commence dredging this year."

Following stakeholder concerns based on agency communication that federal funding would be impacted due to budgetary constraints, on March 7, Higgins wrote to the EPA regional administrator and Great Lakes national program manager urging swift action and full funding for the project contained within the Buffalo River area of concern.

Through a unique collaborative effort, federal and state government agencies, Honeywell, Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper and other community partners are working to address the needs of the Buffalo River following decades of environmental degradation. The first phase of the project began in August of 2011. With support from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began dredging contaminated sediments. The funding authorized by the EPA will support a second phase remediation project, scheduled to begin later this year, occurring along a 6.2 miles stretch of the Buffalo River shoreline and a 1.4 mile area in the city ship canal. (Map)

In an effort to clean up polluted areas in the Great Lakes, the U.S. and Canada have outlined remedial action plans to address the areas of concern in both countries through the U.S.-Canada Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. The Buffalo River is one of 26 areas of concern in the U.S. Additional information on the Buffalo River Area of Concern is available at: http://www.epa.gov/greatlakes/aoc/buffalo/index.html. More information on the project can be found at: BuffaloRiverRestoration.org.

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