GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) – Officials with the United States Environmental Protection Agency visited the Great Southern Club in Gulfport Monday to commemorate the anniversary of a massive investment in the future of the Gulf of Mexico.
The federal government has awarded $53 million over the next five years to five coastal states: Mississippi, Texas, Louisiana, Alabama and Florida.
It comes from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that was passed by Congress and signed by President Joe Biden six months ago this week.
“This is a lot of funds to go into the right places,” EPA Deputy Administrator Janet McCabe said to a crowd. “And it will be up to all of us working together to make sure that we’re turning over every rock and stone to find the most needed projects.”
She said requests for local project proposals will be sent out by the end of the year.
“We’re asking for the kinds of things that people know are important because the people who live in communities know much better what’s needed than we ever will,” she said.
The funding is intended for water quality improvements, community resilience, habitat restoration and environmental education.
According to a press release, the tens of millions of dollars will support wetland restoration, stormwater treatment and control, nature-based infrastructure, resilient shorelines and more.
“Whether it’s an infrastructure or, in this case, habitat restoration, improvements to our natural resources, it’s a win for all of us,” Gulfport Mayor Billy Hewes said. “This additional $53 million will augment what we’re already doing and maybe allow us to accelerate some of the existing programs we’ve identified.”
Ward 3 Councilwoman Ella Holmes-Hines said she has already identified one target area in need.
“I really need that in the Turkey Creek Basin,” she said. “And trying to get that water pristine and safe again and, most of all, that it will help with the flooding. So, we are very excited.”
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides an additional $60 million to improve the water quality of the Mississippi River and reduce its dead zone in the Gulf.
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