The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has started to hand out grants under President Obama's Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which is targeting the most significant environmental problems in the region.
"These grants are a long-overdue investment in a place that is home to millions of Americans, billions of dollars in economic activity and 95 percent of our nation's fresh surface water. It's essential that we act today and set a new standard of care for the next generation," EPA administrator Lisa Jackson said in a statement.
Funded projects will advance the goals and objectives of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Action Plan, which Jackson announced in February in cooperation with 15 other participating agencies and the Great Lakes governors.
The plan calls for efforts to address five areas:
- Cleaning up toxics and toxic hot-spot areas of concern;
- Combating invasive species;
- Promoting near-shore health by protecting watersheds from polluted runoff;
- Restoring wetlands and other habitats; and
- Working with strategic partners on outreach.
It also provides accountability by including measures of progress and benchmarks for success during the next five years.