After threatening funding cut, EPA boss now backs Great Lakes cleanup

Three months ago, the agency wanted it gone.

A wide-ranging government program to protect the Great Lakes seems to have gained an unlikely ally: none other than the head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a man who's been called "an avowed anti-environmentalist."

The EPA's report to congress and the president, released this week, shows resounding support for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) – an Obama-era project to clean up pollution and protect the region's natural resources – including Lake Superior's North Shore.

"The GLRI is protecting public health in the Great Lakes more than any other coordinated interagency effort in U.S. history," EPA Director Scott Pruitt said in the report

As points out, this praise comes three months after Pruitt's agency "recommended discontinuing" the program. 

Its future has seemed uncertain since March, when a budget proposal from the Trump Administration suggested cutting the GLRI's funding by a whopping 97 percent

But Pruitt, who has previously suggested environmental regulations stifled job growth, now says of the program: "We don’t have to choose between the health of our environment and the health of our economy – we can have both.”

So what changed?

Well, the program actually seems to be working, according to the EPA's report. 

Since its launch in 2010, the agency says, the GLRI has shown "unprecedented results," including increasing property values (by cleaning up "areas of concern") and protecting the region's "economy and ecology" by fighting invasive species, among other achievements. 

And Pruitt actually voiced some support for the program last month during a visit to Minnesota, the Star Tribune reported

For now, the initiative seems to be in the clear, thanks not only to the EPA's support, but also a May budget compromise that backed down from the proposed GLRI funding cuts

What has it done for Lake Superior and Minnesota?

Since the GLRI's launch, Minnesota has received $100 million in federal funding for 155 restoration projects in the state. 

If you're interested in the cleanup efforts here and around the region, you can check out the EPA's interactive map by clicking here.

Next Up

Screen Shot 2020-10-15 at 1.14.36 PM

Loons game canceled after 2nd player tests positive for COVID-19

They were due to play Sporting Kansas City on Sunday.


2 killed in head-on crash involving car, dump truck

The crash happened just before 2 p.m. Friday, according to the State Patrol.


Here is Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Saturday, October 31

Minnesota has surpassed 3,000 new cases on consecutive days.

high school football

Minnesota Football Showcase postponed due to COVID-19

The MFCA All-Star Game will be played in June 2021.

Screen Shot 2020-10-31 at 7.26.05 AM

Here's what President Trump said on his visit to Minnesota

The president targeted Gov. Tim Walz and Keith Ellison at his Minnesota rally.

Screen Shot 2020-10-30 at 6.09.58 PM

Here's what Joe Biden said in Minnesota Friday

Presenting himself as the candidate for a united country, he pledged improvements on affordable healthcare, pandemic relief

Mohamed Ibrahim

Missed PAT seals Gophers' fate against Maryland

Mohamed Ibrahim tied a school record with four touchdowns, but the Gophers lost in overtime.

dnr trout stocking helicopter

DNR uses a helicopter to more efficiently stock lakes with trout

In the past, the DNR used airplanes to stock remote lakes with fish, but the survival rate of the fish was only 85%.

steve simon zoom call

Secretary of State explains plans for segregated absentee ballots

Election officials are reminding voters that it's too late to mail in your absentee ballots.


Obama wants $300 million for Great Lakes cleanup

The president's budget plan includes money to help clean up pollution in the lakes and keep out the invasive Asian carp, among other environmental initiatives.

States won't back off lawsuit aimed at keeping Asian carp out of Great Lakes

Last month Congress made changes to shorten the timeframe for developing a federal plan to prevent the invasive fish from spreading to the Great Lakes. But Minnesota and four other states that are suing the federal government over the issue say they won't withdraw the lawsuit.