ASHTABULA – Today, Congressman Dave Joyce (OH-14) joined Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler for a Great Lakes press conference at the U.S. Coast Guard Station in Cleveland Harbor. After the press conference, Joyce and Administrator Wheeler traveled to Ashtabula where they reviewed progress made in restoring the Ashtabula River Area of Concern (AOC). Announcements made during the press conference included a $694,000 Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) grant awarded to Ohio EPA and the removal of the final Beneficial Use Impairment (restrictions on dredging activities) at the Ashtabula River AOC.
“I was proud to join Administrator Wheeler, a fellow Buckeye, in Cleveland this morning to make several important announcementsthat impact our region and highlight the progress we’ve made – as well as our ongoing efforts – to restore and protect the Great Lakes,” said Joyce. “As someone who grew up on Ohio’s north coast, I know that the Great Lakes are not only a national treasure and economic powerhouse, but also one of our country’s greatest natural resources. It’s critical that we continue to do all we can to keep the lakes clean for the millions of Americans who depend on them and preserve them for future generations to enjoy.”
“I’m proud – both as EPA Administrator and as an Ohioan – to announce that the Ashtabula River is the first AOC in the state to begin the delisting process,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “We are within sight of the finish line in terms of returning Ohio’s rivers to health again – so they can again become a place where people can swim, play, catch fish, and generally enjoy what this great state has to offer.”
The Ashtabula River is the first AOC in the State of Ohio to begin the delisting process. Over the past fifteen years, the EPA, along with state and federal partners, and industries have spent over $67.5 million to clean up contaminated sediment and restore habitat in the Ashtabula River AOC. With the removal of the final Beneficial Use Impairment, Ohio can now initiate the delisting of this AOC which is anticipated to be the sixth AOC delisted out the 31 original U.S. AOCs.
Joyce is a Co-Chair of the House Great Lakes Task Force and, as the Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies, he leads the effort in Congress to ensure the Great Lakes receive the investments necessary to protect them to the fullest extent. Having successfully fought to ensure the GLRI receives appropriate funding every year since coming to Congress in 2013, Joyce was presented with the first-ever Great Lakes Changemaker Award by the Council of the Great Lakes Region last year.
Additional attendees at the press conference included: EPA Region 5 Administrator and Great Lakes National Program Manager Kurt Thiede,U.S. Geological Survey Director Jim Reilly, Ohio Department of Natural Resources Director Mary Mertz, Ohio Lake Erie Commission Executive Director Joy Mulinex, Lt. Commander Jeremy Maginot, Commander of the U.S. Coast Guard Station Cleveland Harbor, Northeast Regional Sewer District Cleveland CEO Kyle Dreyfuss-Wells, Ohio State Senate President Larry Obhof, and Ohio State Senator Matt Dolan.