Lake Erie to benefit from $1B Great Lakes clean-up in infrastructure law | Friday Morning Coffee

The money is evidence of the U.S. ‘reinvesting in our economy and in our people,’ President Joe Biden said in Ohio

February 18, 2022 7:06 am

Driftwood on Lake Erie. Photo by Francine Pallister, CC BY-SA 3.0, WikiMedia Commons

Good Friday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

President Joe Biden traveled to Ohio on Thursday where he touted a $1 billion effort to clean up the environmentally challenged Great Lakes, including Lake Erie, positioning it as a part of the administration’s ongoing effort to rebuild the nation and its infrastructure.

“We’re reinvesting in our economy and in our people, reclaiming our leadership and creating millions of jobs for building a better America,” Biden said during the trip to Lorain, Ohio, according to Reuters.

In a Wednesday press briefing, White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said the money will “allow for a major acceleration of progress that will deliver significant environmental, economic, health, and recreational benefits for communities throughout the region, including helping people in the community access clean water.”

The federal spending, channeled through the new federal infrastructure law, will be used to address “Areas of Concern” across the Great Lakes region, the Center Square reported.

According to Reuters, the administration says the money will accelerate clean-up efforts in those federally designated zones, which were damaged by decades of manufacturing and agricultural activity.

The administration said it expects 22 of the remaining 25 AOCs, as they’re known, to come off the federal list by 2030, Reuters further reported.

On Thursday, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan told reporters aboard Air Force One that the infrastructure law was a “game changer for communities throughout the Great Lakes region.”

“This is a shot in the arm of the 25 sites along the Great Lakes that are listed as areas of concern,” Regan said, according to Reuters.

President Joe Biden addresses a gathering of county commissioners in Washington D.C. on Tuesday, 2/15/22 (Screen Capture).

Speaking to reporters in Ohio on Thursday, Biden said the United States and Canada had long ago agreed to remediate “dangerously polluted” areas in the Great Lake region straddling the border between the two counties. Collectively, they support more than 1.3 million jobs, Reuters reported.

“For decades there was a lot of talk, a lot of plans, but very little progress. It was slow. That changes today,” Biden said, according to Reuters.

“It’s going to allow the most significant restoration of the Great Lakes in the history of the Great Lakes.” he said. “We’re going to accelerate cleanup of sites across six states.”

Biden’s Republican critics on Capitol Hill have roundly criticized the infrastructure bill as packed with wasteful spending.

Among them is U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, R-16th District, whose northwestern Pennsylvania district takes in Lake Erie and its environs.

U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Pa. (U.S. House photo)

In a Tuesday statement, Kelly, who had previously criticized the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, and then touted its benefits to the voters back home, renewed his criticism of the infrastructure law.

The northwestern Pennsylvania lawmaker argued that taxpayers “need real infrastructure investment, not trillions of dollars in more reckless spending.

“Too often what Democrats offer as ‘infrastructure’ is just a redistribution of taxpayer money for various social or climate priorities instead of on highways, roads, rivers and bridges, and runways,” said Kelly, who, a day later, pressed for the inclusion of a multi-million-dollar line item in the budget for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that would pay for sand replenishment at Presque Isle State Park on the shores of Lake Erie.

The Army Corps of Engineers is in line to receive $14 billion in funding from the infrastructure law to pay for what the White House has described as “historic investment to America’s port and waterway infrastructure.”

The money also will be used to pay for efforts to “bolster climate resilience,” the White House said.

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican who helped shepherd the infrastructure law through the upper chamber, called the funding “great news” for efforts to address algae blooms, invasive species, pollution and habitat degradation across Lake Erie and the Great Lakes, Reuters reported.

Pennsylvania State Capitol Building. (Capital-Star photo by Cassie Miller.)

Our Stuff.
State Supreme Court arguments in Pa.’s congressional redistricting case begin today. From Staff Reporter Marley Parishhere’s what you need to know.

Meanwhile, state House Republicans have filed a legal challenge with the state Supreme Court against the state’s proposed legislative maps, Stephen Caruso reports.

State judges in Pa. and beyond are facing growing GOP pushback against rulings in election cases, Capital-Star Democracy Reporter Kira Lerner reports.

Students who were defrauded by for-profit colleges will get millions in loan repaymentsCapital-Star Washington Reporter Jennifer Shutt reports.

A progressive super PAC has launched a $10 million fight against election misinformation, our partners at City & State Pa. report.

As 911 wait times rise, the Philadelphia Police Department is training more dispatchers, our partners at the Philadelphia Tribune report.

On our Commentary Page this morning: Two Penn State experts explain why Canadian trucker protests elevate the loudest voices in the room distort democracy. And the latest push for liquor privatization is a glass half-empty, the head of the Pa. Taverns Association argues.

En la Estrella-Capital: Nueva autoridad se reúne para abordar la expansión de la banda ancha en Pa. Y una Demócrata de Pa. propone prohibir la táctica controversial de la recaudación de fondos de campaña.

As the omicron surge subsides, Pennsylvania and New Jersey are seeing ‘dramatic’ drops in COVID-19 cases, the Inquirer reports.

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., wants to see tough action come from Congress on Russia, the Post-Gazette reports.

PennLive highlights the great work of Black-led theaters across central Pennsylvania.

The Caucus explains how the subpoena from the Jan. 6 committee could boost state Sen. Doug Mastriano’s, R-Franklin’s, campaign for governor.

York County has hired a new elections director: Julie Haertsch is a former official with the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, the York Daily Record reports.

A longtime Allentown city employee has been promoted to a new position within Mayor Matt Tuerk’s office, the Morning Call reports.

Coffee shops in Luzerne County are getting hit by a shortage of disposable cups, the Citizens’ Voice reports.

WHYY-FM runs down some of the recent twist and turns in Pennsylvania’s school funding case as it enters the defense phase.

Native American leaders are increasing their efforts to have their ancestors’ remains repatriated from the former Carlisle Indian School in Cumberland County, the Associated Press reports (via WITF-FM).

The Erie school board has its first Black woman presidentGoErie reports. looks at the choices that states are making on infrastructure funding.

U.S. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, backing the primary challenger against U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney’s, R-Wyo.Roll Call reports.

Here’s your #Pennsylvania Instagram of the Day:


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Skytop Lodge (@skytoplodge)

What Goes On
The desk is clear. Enjoy the silence.

Gov. Tom Wolf heads to Pittsburgh for a 2 p.m. newser announcing improvements to freight and passenger rail service.

You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept.
Best wishes go out in advance to Justin Sweitzer, of City & State Pa., who celebrates on Saturday. Congratulations and enjoy the day, sir.

Heavy Rotation
We’ll go out with one from Roisin Murphy. It’s. a collab with Soulwax. Here’s the remix of ‘Something More.’

Friday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link
The Montreal Canadiens finally snapped a 10-game losing streak, beating the St. Louis Blues 3-2 at home at Centre Bell on Thursday night. The Habs’ Cole Caufield scored the game-winner in the third.

And now you’re up to date.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.