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Administrator Wheeler Wraps Up Southwest Michigan Swing with Congressmen Huizenga, Upton Highlighting Trump Administration Commitment to Great Lakes

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Grand Rapids, Mich. (June 3, 2020) — Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler completed his swing through Southwest Michigan participating in a variety of events concerning the Great Lakes with U.S. Congressmen Bill Huizenga (MI-02) and Fred Upton (MI-06).

“The relationship between Southwest Michigan and EPA continues to grow,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “From the proposed redesignation of Berrien County’s air quality to within attainment, to continued spending on Lake Michigan restoration and the Kalamazoo River Superfund Site, the region is dramatically improving the environmental quality of its air, land and water. This region has EPA’s promise: we will do all we can to help Southwest Michigan attain their environmental goals.”

“Both Michigan’s economy and our nation’s economy are directly linked to the health of the Great Lakes,” said Congressman Bill Huizenga, Co-Chair of the House Great Lakes Task Force. “By restoring the Great Lakes Advisory Board and working in a bipartisan manner to support increased funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, President Trump and Administrator Wheeler have laid the ground work to protect and strengthen both the ecology and the economy of the Great Lakes.” 

“Southwest Michigan is one of the most beautiful regions of the country. Together, with all levels of government, we will continue to work on efforts to care for the land we love, the air we breathe, and the water we drink. Preserving and protecting the environment will remain a priority for us,” said U.S. Congressman Fred Upton.

“By making the Great Lakes a top priority we’re committing to improving Michigan’s environment and economy,” said Regional Administrator Kurt Thiede. “EPA is doubling down on its promise to protect and restore the Great Lakes so that future generations can continue to enjoy this invaluable resource and economic powerhouse.”

This morning, Administrator Wheeler announced the membership of the Great Lakes Advisory Board (GLAB) at Grand Valley State University’s Annis Water Resource Institute. This federal advisory board, re-established in December 2018, will provide advice and recommendations on matters related to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the implementation of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement between the United States and Canada.

In tandem with the Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), EPA also released the 2019 State of the Great Lakes (SOGL) report today, which provides an overview of the status and trends of the Great Lakes ecosystem.

The Trump Administration remains committed improving the health of the Great Lakes. EPA and the other federal agencies are using Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) funds to strategically target the biggest threats to the Great Lakes ecosystem including those identified in SOGL report. Since the last report in 2017, about $900 million of GLRI funds have been used to restore and protect the Great Lakes. Actions over the last year include the release of the Great Lakes Action Plan 3 and the establishment of the first ever Trash Free Waters grants program for the Great Lakes. Last month, EPA announced over $9 million for projects to reduce excess nutrients in the Great Lakes, $6.4 million to enhance Great Lakes fisheries and an additional $20 million for work to address persistent challenges in the Great Lakes.

The trip concluded Robinette’s Apple Haus & Winery where Administrator Wheeler met with the Michigan Farm Bureau to discuss important agricultural issues. Administrator Wheeler discussed the agency’s recent temporary guidance regarding respiratory protection for agricultural pesticide handlers amidst the COVID-19 public health emergency. The guidance aligns with recent Occupational Safety and Health Administration memos on respirators while addressing EPA’s responsibilities under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act and the Agricultural Worker Protection Standard.

Yesterday, Administrator Wheeler delivered remarks on clean air progress under President Trump noting that Americans are breathing the cleanest air since 1970, toured EPA cleanup efforts at the Kalamazoo Superfund Site, and participated in a boat tour of Lake Michigan with the U.S. Coast Guard in St. Joseph highlighting work to restore the Great Lakes.