WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith, and Representative Pete Stauber (MN-08) announced that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has signed a $4.5 million agreement to remediate contaminated sediment in the St. Louis River Area of Concern (AOC) on Lake Superior. The St. Louis River AOC is one of 43 toxic hotspots identified by the United States and Canada in the Great Lakes basin, and is the second largest AOC in the United States. EPA and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) will fund the work through a Great Lakes Legacy Act cost-sharing partnership.
“The Great Lakes are a national treasure and vital to the economy and environment in Minnesota and our entire country,” Klobuchar said. “The restoration of the Great Lakes ecosystem is estimated to provide billions of dollars in long-term economic benefits for the region and this funding will help ensure that the restoration of the important St. Louis River area habitat continues.”
“Restoring the Great Lakes is good for our economy, tourism and natural resources,” Smith said. “The St. Louis River watershed is important to many—including the Native American communities who have long lived near it and utilized nearby resources, tourists who visit the region for outdoor recreation, and businesses that rely on the Port of Duluth for shipping. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has helped restore wildlife habitat, reduce phosphorus runoff and control invasive species, and I look forward to continued program support for restoration efforts on Lake Superior and its surrounding watersheds.”
“I am incredibly happy to announce this funding agreement today because in addition to serving as a special place for many Minnesotans, Lake Superior is also a vital component of our tourism and shipping industries. By investing in the health and vitality of the St. Louis River, which flows into the Port of Duluth and ultimately Lake Superior, we are preserving this national treasure for future generations to enjoy, supporting the Port of Duluth, and guaranteeing continued economic prosperity by extension,” Stauber said.
As one of the Vice Chairs on the Senate Great Lakes Task Force, Senator Klobuchar has consistently advocated for robust funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI). Klobuchar has consistently supported GLRI appropriations and has sent letters in opposition to budget cuts in the program. She also is an original cosponsor of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Act to reauthorize the program and ramp up its authorized funding level from $300 million per year to $475 million.
Senator Smith has long fought to protect Minnesota’s environment, and works with her colleagues on the bipartisan Senate Great Lakes Task Force to improve the environmental and economic health of the Great Lakes. Sen. Smith helped introduced the bipartisan Great Lakes Restoration Act of 2019 and has repeatedly pushed back against proposed cuts to the restoration budget.