Today, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand are announcing that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will use $1 billion in funding passed in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to make significant progress in the clean-up and restoration of the Great Lakes’ most environmentally degraded sites, revitalizing the environment for millions of New Yorkers who live in the Great Lakes region. The senators were instrumental in securing at least $27 billion in direct funding for New York State in the infrastructure package, including Great Lakes funding. The EPA will use the bulk of the $1 billion investment in the Great Lakes to clean up and restore severely degraded sites, known as Areas of Concern (AOCs). New York’s AOCs impacted by this funding include the Buffalo River, Eighteenmile Creek, the Niagara River, the Oswego River, the Rochester Embayment, and the St. Lawrence River at Massena/Akwesasne, and work is expected to be completed by 2030. This will allow for a major acceleration of progress that will deliver significant environmental, economic, health, and recreational benefits for the millions of New York State residents that live in the Great Lakes watershed.
“The Great Lakes are an important natural, economic, and recreation resource for New York,” said Senator Gillibrand. “I am proud to have fought to secure the critical funds included in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to clean up and revitalize some of the most environmentally degraded sites across the Great Lakes coastline. With this funding, the EPA can continue to make a targeted effort to restore our freshwater ecosystems and preserve the natural beauty of the region for future generations.”
“This critical funding to accelerate clean-ups at key New York Great Lakes communities from Buffalo-Niagara to Rochester to Oswego to the St. Lawrence will deliver significant environmental, economic, health, and recreational benefits for millions of New Yorkers,” said Senator Schumer. “Thanks to new investments we secured in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act, the Rochester Embayment, as well as the Buffalo River, Eighteenmile Creek, Oswego River, St. Lawrence, and Niagara River Areas of Concern can be cleaned up and delisted. Investing in the Great Lakes means investing in the future of Upstate New York. I will continue to fight to ensure that generations to come can continue to enjoy the full natural beauty and economic energy of these environmental wonders.”
In 2018, an independent economic study from the Great Lakes Commission and the University of Michigan found that every Great Lakes Restoration Initiative dollar spent produces an additional $3.35 of economic activity. The study also found that for older industrial cities, including Buffalo, there could be more than $4 in additional economic activity for each federal dollar spent. A 2020 analysis of the Great Lakes determined that the region supports more than 1.3 million jobs, generating $82 billion in wages annually. EPA projects that the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding, combined with funds from annual Great Lakes Restoration Initiative appropriations and funding from other sources, will enable the EPA and its partners to complete work across 22 of the 25 remaining AOCs by the end of 2030.