NATIONAL NEWS

Canada pledges Great Lakes funding after Trudeau-Biden talks

Mar 25, 2023, 9:41 AM

U.S. President Joe Biden and Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau embrace following a joint news ...

U.S. President Joe Biden and Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau embrace following a joint news conference, in Ottawa, Ontario, Friday, March 24, 2023. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press via AP)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press via AP)

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — Canada has pledged a significant increase in spending to improve water quality in the Great Lakes following Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden, whose administration also has boosted funding for the shared waters.

Following their discussion Friday in Ottawa, Trudeau said his government would spend $420 million — about $306 million in U.S. dollars — over the next decade on the lakes, still suffering fron 20th century industrial pollution and newer challenges such as climate change, PFAS chemicals and microplastics.

The announcement came weeks after U.S. Congress members prodded Biden to seek more support for the lakes from Canada, which critics have accused of doing too little.

“The Great Lakes are a source of drinking water for 40 million people, and this shared resource needs to be protected,” Trudeau said. “This is why Canada will make a major new investment … to continue safeguarding the Great Lakes for generations to come.”

The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River are the world’s largest surface freshwater system, providing drinking water for some 40 million people and supporting a regional economy in eight U.S. states and two Canadian provinces.

Trudeau’s father, then-Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, signed an agreement with President Richard M. Nixon in 1972 to restore and protect the lakes. It has been updated several times since.

In addition to toxic residues in harbors and river mouths, the lakes are ravaged by invasive species such as quagga mussels, loss of nearshore fish and wildlife habitat, and farm and urban runoff that fuels harmful algae blooms.

The U.S. Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, started by President Barack Obama in 2010, has pumped some $4 billion into projects aimed at fixing those problems, with annual spending averaging between $300 million to 400 million.

Congress has authorized $425 million for fiscal year 2024. An additional $1 billion from Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure law will be devoted largely to completing work on longstanding industrial site cleanups.

Canada, meanwhile, had committed just $33 million in U.S. dollars to cleanup efforts between 2017 and 2022.

In a March 8 letter, nine U.S. House members urged Biden to “emphasize the importance of our binational institutions and investments for the Great Lakes from the Canadian government” during his visit.

Trudeau’s pledge Friday drew praise from those who had pushed for a bigger Canadian contribution.

“This increased funding commitment to help preserve and strengthen the Great Lakes is a welcomed announcement from our neighbors in Canada,” said Rep. Bill Huizenga, a Michigan Republican.

Rep. Brian Higgins, a New York Democrat, said the lakes “are a resource both nations share, and it is incumbent on us all to invest in its health and future.”

A University of Michigan analysis has found that each $1 spent under the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative generated $3.35 across the region and more in some areas.

Canada’s promised increase is “a significant step towards ensuring the longterm health and sustainability of our freshwater resources,” said Gino Moretti, Mayor of Saint-Anicet in Quebec and Vice-Chair of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, which represents waterfront cities in the region.

National News

FILE - An eBay app is shown on a mobile phone, July 11, 2019, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, Fil...

Associated Press

Member of eBay security team sentenced in harassment scheme involving bloody Halloween pig mask

BOSTON (AP) — The former senior manager of special operations for eBay Inc.’s. global security team was sentenced Thursday in federal court in Boston for his role in a cyberstalking campaign that included sending a preserved fetal pig, a bloody pig Halloween mask and a book on surviving the loss of a spouse to a […]

13 minutes ago

Associated Press

Some convictions overturned in terrorism case against Muslim scholar from Virginia

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — A judge has overturned a conviction carrying a life sentence for an Islamic scholar from Virginia who was found guilty of soliciting treason after the Sept. 11 attacks for encouraging followers to fight against the U.S. in Afghanistan. The ruling issued Thursday from U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema overturns three of […]

24 minutes ago

FILE - This undated booking photo provided by the Missouri Department of Corrections shows Sandra H...

Associated Press

Three courts agree that a woman deemed wrongfully convicted should be freed. She still isn’t.

A circuit judge, an appellate court and the Missouri Supreme Court agree that a woman whose murder conviction was overturned should be free after 43 years in prison. Yet Sandra Hemme is still behind bars, leaving her lawyers and legal experts puzzled. “I’ve never seen it,” said Michael Wolff, a former Missouri Supreme Court judge […]

32 minutes ago

FILE - Shown is the Pennsylvania Capitol building, Dec. 8, 2015, at the state Capitol in Harrisburg...

Associated Press

Political divisions stall proposed gun policies in Pennsylvania, where assassin took aim at Trump

Months before an armed man took aim at Donald Trump at a presidential campaign rally in rural Pennsylvania, some state lawmakers had proposed to outlaw the type of rifle used in the assassination attempt. The legislation stalled without coming to a vote, but that was no surprise. Politically divided Pennsylvania has been at a standstill […]

1 hour ago

This photo provided by Matthew Linehan shows a flood-damaged potato field at Sparrow Arc Farm in Gu...

Associated Press

Vermont farmers take stock after losing crops to flooding two years in a row

BARNET, Vt. (AP) — Exactly one year to the date of last year’s severe flooding in Vermont, Joe’s Brook Farm was flooded again by the remnants of Hurricane Beryl. This time it was worse. Workers were able to harvest some of the produce before last week’s flooding, but the family-owned vegetable farm still lost 90% […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

South Dakota anti-abortion group appeals ruling that dismissed its lawsuit over ballot initiative

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — An anti-abortion group in South Dakota is appealing to the state’s Supreme Court after a judge dismissed its lawsuit to take an abortion rights initiative off the November ballot. In a statement, Life Defense Fund Co-Chair Leslee Unruh said the group has asked for an expedited order from the court “because […]

2 hours ago

Canada pledges Great Lakes funding after Trudeau-Biden talks