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Biden Budget Proposals Would Support NY Great Lakes Protection Efforts

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Tuesday, June 8, 2021   

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Groups working for clean, affordable water are supporting President Joe Biden's proposed budget and American Jobs Plan, which would invest billions into the Great Lakes region.

The Biden plan would increase the budget for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative by $10 million and give the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) an extra $2 billion to allow for greater oversight of polluters.

Brian Smith, associate executive director of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment, said the Initiative has allowed for good progress in New York, but problems with lead service lines and wastewater spills in the state need further attention.

"EPA estimates that it will cost $54 billion to upgrade and maintain wastewater and drinking water infrastructure over the next 20 years," Smith reported. "If we continue with the status quo, we will never be able to address these needs. Tackling the challenge of this magnitude is going to require us to think and more importantly, act big."

Opponents of the Biden proposals are against the high price pointed. According to Smith, every dollar invested in the Buffalo River under the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has brought in $4 in economic benefit to the city of Buffalo.

The American Jobs Plan, otherwise known as the infrastructure bill, would dedicate an additional $111 billion to protect water quality over the next eight years.

Chad Lord, policy director for the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition, said it would be a big boost for environmental justice.

"These investments will help eliminate toxic lead service lines into people's homes, accelerate progress in fixing the nation's drinking water and wastewater infrastructure, and provide much-needed investments to help communities that have been most harmed by pollution," Lord outlined.

From 2009 to 2017, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative spent $134 million on more than a hundred projects.


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