President Biden’s Historic Commitment to the Great Lakes

President Biden’s Historic Commitment to the Great Lakes
Lake Michigan shoreline in Holland, Michigan (Aaron Burden)

The efforts funded by the bipartisan infrastructure law will clean up—and restore—our greatest natural resource.

This week, President Biden announced an unprecedented investment of $1 billion to accelerate the cleanup and restoration of the Great Lakes. The result will be the largest commitment in history to one of Earth’s most precious natural resources.

The Great Lakes—the world’s largest group of freshwater lakes by total area and second-largest by total volume—provide fresh drinking water for more than 40 million people. The lakes support more than 1.2 million jobs and create economic opportunities for hundreds of communities. They are a source of pride and identity to Indigenous Peoples and tribes, Americans, and Canadians. The Great Lakes are also in great danger.

Boat going through an algae bloom on Lake Erie near Toledo, Ohio in 2011. Cyanobacteria blooms (blue-green algae) may cause fish kills and discolored or foul-smelling water, affecting both human and ecosystem health. (Peter Essick/Alamy)

Toxic algal blooms, invasive species, plastic pollution, and degraded shorelines all threaten the future of the Great Lakes. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has identified 25 of the most polluted locations in in the Great Lakes ecosystem as “Areas of Concern” (AOCs) that are most in need of extensive restoration.

The Biden administration’s investment in the future of the Great Lakes—and the people who depend on them—will fund work on AOCs from Duluth, Minnesota, to Buffalo, New York.  Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin will also see significant investments in sites that have been dangerously polluted for decades. The efforts funded by President Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure bill and the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative will lead to the delisting of 16 AOCs by 2030 and allow for continued work on six additional AOCs.

President Biden’s rock-solid commitment to safeguarding the Great Lakes for future generations stands in stark contrast to his predecessor’s approach. Just three years ago, President Trump threatened to cut funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative by 90 percent. Representatives from Great Lakes states had to fight the Trump administration to invest in cleanup and restoration, ultimately leading to President Trump relenting and reversing course.

It is incumbent on all elected officials—federal, state, and local—who care about the future of the Great Lakes to confront the challenges that face them head-on. The Biden administration is doing just that by passing a bipartisan infrastructure bill that will not just rebuild roads and bridges from coast to coast but will take a historic step to preserve and protect one of the world’s most precious natural resources.

Take Action:
Call on the Senate to heed dire climate warnings and pass the Build Back Better Act now!