EPA announces $79M funding for Columbia River Basin projects

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency’s chief announced a $79 million investment in an effort to
protect and restore the Columbia River Basin with funding from President Joe
Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure law during an event in Portland on Wednesday.

The funding will
give the EPA “the ability to grow the Columbia River Basin Restoration Program
and significantly increase competitive grants throughout the Basin to reduce”
toxins in fish and water along with addressing climate impacts for communities
along the basin, according to a press release.

EPA Administrator
Michael Regan’s Portland visit on Wednesday is part of the effort to gain
support for the just-passed bill addressing climate change.

“The Columbia River
Basin is a vital economic engine and an irreplaceable environmental asset,
providing a broad range of benefits from agriculture to recreation to
electricity, but toxic contaminants in the basin pose a serious risk,” Regan
said in a statement. “Through the investments from President Biden’s Bipartisan
Infrastructure Law, we will make unprecedented progress in our efforts to
restore and protect these waters, clean up harmful pollution and deliver
economic and environmental benefits to the communities supported by the basin.”

The funding for
seven initial grants was announced on Wednesday, and an additional 18 projects
will be funded by autumn, according to the funding announcement.

The seven initial
grants are for the following projects: Salmon-Safe Columbia Basin Pledge, which
aims to speed up water quality protection; Pesticide Behavior Change Project of
Oregon & Southwest Washington; Columbia River Pollution Education and
Outreach Project; Reducing PFAS and Phthalates in Local Water Systems within
the Columbia Basin; Engaging Communities to Monitor Mercury Risk in the
Columbia River Basin; Columbia Slope Water Quality Monitoring Phase 2; and the
Waste Incentive Network.