News Story

Mission Creep: Money Touted As Protecting Lakes Goes To ‘Environmental Justice’

Wild rice beds, turtles, rare plants also get money sold as protecting Great Lakes

Efforts to trim spending by a federal grant program called the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative have received extensive media coverage that is almost entirely critical of any reductions.

Recently, The Washington Post chimed in with a story that described it as an “EPA program, which will dole out grants to nonprofit groups, local governments and other federal agencies to shrink toxic algae blooms, restore wetland habitat and prevent invasive Asian carp in the Mississippi River system from entering Lake Michigan.”

The media generally characterizes GLRI and the programs it funds as saviors of the Great Lakes and critical to their protection. What is not reported is the magnitude of GLRI spending: Since 2010, it has given $2.48 billion for more than 4,800 projects.

Here are a few of the 2019 GLRI grants:

$80,000 to the Red Cliff band of Lake Superior Chippewas in Wisconsin to hire an “environmental justice specialist.”

$100,000 to reseed existing wild rice beds in Wisconsin that will be used for wild rice research and cultural education for the native tribal youth.

$99,000 to hire a program analyst to write grants to get more federal money for the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe in Michigan.

$99,000 in a multi-state effort to study the plant known as Pitcher’s thistle. The plant was added to the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants in 1988.

$10,000 to spend on a habitat suitability study to see if the Mitchell’s Satyr butterfly can be reintroduced in parts of Indiana.

$142,969 to spend on eliminating predators such as snakes and raccoons to protect turtles in a multi-state area.