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Biden-Harris: More than $35 million to selectees to fund environmental justice projects across Great Lakes


Wed, Mar 27th 2024 04:25 pm

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Press Release

This week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the selection of four applicants to receive more than $35 million to fund projects that advance environmental justice in underserved and overburdened communities across the Great Lakes.

Through EPA’s newly created Great Lakes Environmental Justice Grant program, made possible by President Joe Biden’s “Investing in America Agenda,” each selectee will develop and oversee their own subgrant competition that will fund environmental protection and restoration projects that safeguard this nation’s largest fresh surface water resources and benefit underserved and overburdened communities throughout the Great Lakes Basin.

“Thanks to President Biden’s historic investments in America, we are taking another critical step to protect our treasured Great Lakes and advance environmental justice,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “Together, with the partners we’re announcing today, we will continue our work to remove barriers for communities that have been left behind while preserving the rich cultural, economic and environmental role of the Great Lakes in communities across the Great Lakes Basin.”

The Great Lakes Environmental Justice Grant program is part of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI), the largest investment in the Great Lakes in two decades, which received $1 billion in funding through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.


√ Restore America’s Estuaries was selected to receive $19,999,976 to develop and implement a Great Lakes Environmental Justice Grant program that, with the support of Great Lakes partners, will serve the entire Great Lakes Basin.

√ Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper was selected to receive $5,633,581 to develop and implement the Western New York Environmental Justice Grant program for underserved communities in Lake Erie and Niagara River’s watershed.

“There’s no exaggerating the importance of protecting and restoring the Great Lakes. They provide our drinking water, fuel our economy, offer us spaces for recreation, and harbor vital resources for many Tribes,” said EPA Region 5 Administrator and Great Lakes National Program Manager Debra Shore. “Thanks to additional funding through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, EPA and our partners are making more progress than ever before – and with today’s announcement, we are ensuring that some of our most vulnerable Great Lakes communities will benefit from these historic investments.”

“Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper has spent decades mobilizing our community and advocating for our local environment in order to correct mistakes and clean up after generations of poor decisions,” said Jill Jedlicka, executive director. “Western New York is home to numerous underserved communities who are faced with a disproportionate burden of environmental stressors and injustices, and it is the primary goal of this project to empower local communities and increase their capacity to implement solutions. With USEPA’s support, Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper’s leadership team and our partners will have the combined skills, shared vision and community relationships to help break down barriers, address these ongoing challenges, and bring an innovative watershed funding partnership model to the lower Great Lakes. We are grateful for the trust and investment by USEPA-GLNPO that will allow us to dedicate federal dollars towards local projects in the communities that need it the most, while simultaneously creating a model for sustainable funding and collaboration into the future.”

Many communities in the Great Lakes Basin lack the resources needed to apply for, obtain and oversee the implementation of federal grant projects. These new grant programs will ease these administrative barriers and help underserved communities more effectively access federal funding for important local projects.

EPA anticipates finalizing all the awards once all legal and administrative requirements are satisfied. Funding opportunities are expected to be made available to communities within the first year of selectees receiving the funds announced today.

Cities, states, Tribes and nonprofit organizations representing underserved communities will be able to apply directly to the selected grant programs to fund a range of environmental protection and restoration projects in underserved communities that will further the goals of the GLRI. These programs will also provide technical assistance to organizations in underserved communities to increase their organizational capacity. This investment will also encourage even greater environmental, economic, health and recreational benefits for underserved Great Lakes communities.

Since 2010, EPA’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) has funded more than 7,500 restoration and protection projects totaling more than $3.7 billion. Read more about the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

Sign up for the Great Lakes News email list to get information about funding opportunities to support Great Lakes environmental work and get updates about Great Lakes environmental projects. 

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