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Environmental Protection Agency rolls out five-year action plan for Great Lakes restoration

The plan focuses on eliminating toxic contaminants, keeping invasive species out, protecting wildlife, and reducing nutrient runoff.

DETROIT — The Environmental Protection Agency has unveiled its sweeping new Great Lakers Restoration Initative Action Plan, a five-year project with goals ranging from eliminating contaminants in the water, to protecting the various habitats and wildlife, to keeping out invasive species like Asian carp.

The rollout of the plan comes months after President Donald Trump had proposed slashing the funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initative from $300 million to just $30 million in his 2020 budget, a 90% drop. Governors of five states, including Ohio, had warned the move would cost jobs, hurt tourism and jeopardize public health. 

RELATED: Trump seeks cuts for cleanup of Great Lakes, other waterways

Trump reversed course weeks later during a rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan, pledging to provide $300 million for the initative, framing the announcement as "breaking news."

RELATED: Trump pledges to fully fund Great Lakes Restoration Initiative

The 30-page Action Plan, covering 2020 through 2024, focuses on five key areas: 

  • Eliminating toxic substances and areas of concern 
  • Invasive species, including Asian carp 
  • Reducing the amount of nutrient runoff to help prevent nearshore harmful and nuisance algal blooms.
  • Protecting habitats and species
  • Laying the foundation for future restoration activities. 

Two of the 'areas of concern' listed in the plan for eliminating toxic substances are the Cuyahoga River and the Black River in Northeast Ohio. 

“As someone who grew up on the shores of Lake Erie, I’m proud to be a champion of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative in Congress,” said Rep. Dave Joyce in a statement. “The Great Lakes provide more than 1.5 million jobs, supply 90% of our nation’s fresh surface water, support over 3,500 species of plants and animals, and generate $62 billion in wages every year. I applaud the Administration for recognizing the importance of this vital program and look forward to continuing our work to protect and preserve the invaluable natural resource and economic powerhouse that is the Great Lakes System.”

RELATED: NASA photograph shows massive Lake Erie algae bloom

RELATED: Report: Great Lakes cleanups boost economic development

RELATED: 5 governors push presidential candidates to aid Great Lakes

RELATED: Researchers tracking invasive grass carp in Lake Erie

You can read the entire report below: 

RESTORATION INITIATIVE ACTION PLAN III Fiscal Year 2020 - Fiscal Year 2024 *Socioeconomic Impacts of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. University of Michigan Research Seminar in Quantitative Economics. September 30, 2018. yy 2.1.2. Projects that manage pathways through which invasive species can be introduced to the Great Lakes ecosystem.yy 2.1.3.

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