EPA offering $2 million for programs to pickup trash on the Great Lakes

The Environmental Protection Agency is offering millions in grant funding for projects to cleanup the Great Lakes.

On Friday, the EPA's administrator Andrew Wheeler announced a new program in conjunction with the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative that focuses on funding "trash-free water projects in the Great Lakes."

"Removing trash, litter and garbage - including plastics - from marine and freshwater environments is one of EPA's highest priorities," said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. "The Trash-Free Great Lakes Grant Program is intended to fund efforts by communities and other applicants to clean up beaches and waterways so that the Great Lakes watershed will continue to provide habitat for wildlife and drinking water and recreation for tens of millions of people."

While applicants can receive up to $500,000 in funding, there is $2 million available. Wheeler said that up to 12 grants could be awarded, including two larger scale projects and 10 smaller scale projects.

Types of projects include:

  • Great Lakes beach and shoreline cleanup projects
  • Great Lakes harbor and river cleanup projects
  • Great Lakes trash and litter prevention and education projects
  • Eligible entities will include state agencies, federally recognized tribes and tribal consortia, any agency or instrumentality of local governments, nonprofit organizations, interstate agencies, and colleges and universities

One of the EPA's region administrators said the program is a first for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI).

A 2018 study by economists from the University of Michigan found that for every $1 put into the GLRI, it produced $3.35 in additional economic activity for the region. Despite the expansion, President Trump has proposed cutting the funding for the initiative in previous budget requests. 

His 2019 budget recommended cutting 90 percent of the initiative's funding. 

"This first-of-its-kind trash-focused grant program is yet another example of progress being made under the GLRI," said Cathy Stepp, who is also the Great Lakes National Program manager. "Thanks to this funding, a number of Great Lakes communities can receive a meaningful assist in removing trash and litter from beaches, shorelines and waterways where cleanup projects are sorely needed."

More information will be available when the the application opens in October.