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

Facebook - Tuey Wilson Comic Stunt Juggler - broken wrists

MN juggler Tuey Wilson breaks both wrists in unfortunate accident

Wilson is a staple of the Renaissance Festival and holds a Guinness World Record.

Pixabay - laptop computer dark screen

Charges: Woodbury man had hundreds of child porn images on devices

He was arrested and charged with six felonies this week.

Dede Westbrook

Report: Dede Westbrook working out for Vikings

Westbrook could sign with the team if the workout goes well.

Flickr - State Patrol Minnesota trooper - uniform crop

State Patrol squad sustains major damage in crash at I-35 ramp in Sandstone

The trooper and other driver involved in the wreck were both injured.

school lunch

Free meals for kids available at 2,500 sites in Minnesota this summer

The state has teamed up with the USDA to provide healthy foods for all children in Minnesota.

695 grand avenue

St. Paul planners gives OK to 5-story development at Dixie's on Grand

The property would include four commercial spaces, but not Dixie's on Grand.

Screen Shot 2021-07-23 at 12.22.13 PM

Family identifies man who died at Menards in Golden Valley

Three people were "temporarily detained" at the Menards on Thursday, police say.


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.