The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has announced a funding opportunity for coastal resilience projects that may be of interest to groups around the Great Lakes. The 2015 Regional Coastal Resilience Grants Program will award grants of $500,000 to $1 million for projects that help coastal communities become more resilient in the face of extreme weather. More information, including links to the full funding opportunity, FAQs, and an applicant checklist, can be found here. We have checked with NOAA to confirm this opportunity is open to projects in the Great Lakes states. Proposals are due by July 24, 2015.
Last week, the U.S. House passed a bill that would deny clear Clean Water Act protections to waters that 1-in-3 Americans—more than 117 million people—depend on for safe drinking water. H.R. 1732, The Regulatory Integrity Protection Act of 2015, passed 261 to 155. For a list of how members of the House voted on this bad bill, see below.
In the Great Lakes delegation, every Republican and three Democrats voted in favor of the bill, which the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition opposes. The bill, H.R. 1732, would needlessly scuttle the EPA’s and Army Corps of Engineers’ clean water protection rule. H.R. 1732 would require that the agencies scrap the current rule and start from scratch using the comments they’ve already received.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced $3.5 million in available funding for the restoration of Spirit Lake, an area in Minnesota part of the St. Louis Rive Area of Concern. The EPA will provide $2.275 million in funding from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, while U.S. Steel will provide the remaining $1.225 million for the clean up. The funding is targeted at sediment clean up in the area.
There were 43 Areas of Concern designated in 1987 as priority clean up areas around the Great Lakes due to the high levels of contamination or degradation found on those sites. So far four areas in the United States have been delisted: Oswego River, N.Y.; Presque Isle, Pa.; White Lake, Mich.; and Deer Lake, Mich.
On Tuesday we expect the House of Representatives to vote on the Regulatory Integrity Protection Act (HR 1732)—a bill that would set back efforts by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps to provide strong Clean Water Act protections around the country. We wrote about this bill at the end of April when we thought a vote was going to come up. If you have not already done so, please urge your members of Congress to oppose this bad bill.
In case you missed this past week in Great Lakes conservation news:
The Toledo Blade reports that state regulators and treatment plant operators are unsure how to implement an EPA advisory on microcystins, the toxins produced by harmful algal blooms. The confusion stems from the establishment of two different drinking water standards, one for children and one for adults. Meanwhile, Michigan Radio reports on a partnership between Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and the Department of Agriculture to provide assistance to farmers in reducing the agricultural runoff that can promote the development of toxic algal blooms. And the Chicago Tribune reports that Lake Erie’s frequent algal blooms could facilitate the establishment of Asian carp, a destructive invasive fish that preferentially eats algal blooms.
A Canadian advisory panel has endorsed a controversial nuclear waste disposal plan, reports the Associated Press. The proposed plan calls for low-level waste from nuclear power plants to be buried less than a mile from Lake Huron’s shores.
The Detroit Free Press reports that the Michigan legislature is considering a bill to exempt energy companies from rules requiring they disclose information about their energy infrastructure, such as oil and gas pipelines. Proponents of the bill claim that it will make it more difficult for terrorists to target energy infrastructure, but environmentalists believe that it will help energy companies avoid public accountability.