For immediate release: February 26, 2015 | Download News Release PDF
Ann Arbor, Mich. – The Great Lakes Commission supports legislation, introduced today by Rep. Candice Miller (R-Mich.) and Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), directing federal agencies to take immediate actions to prevent the spread of Asian carp and other aquatic nuisance species from the Mississippi River basin into the Great Lakes. The bill also directs them to explore water quality and flood control measures needed for the long-term prevention of invasive species movement through the Chicago Area Waterway System, while maintaining efficient navigation.
The “Defending Our Great Lakes Act,” backed by a bipartisan group of members of Congress, supports immediate measures to reduce the risk of Asian carp entering the Great Lakes by implementing control measures at the Brandon Road lock and dam on the Des Plaines River in Joliet, Ill. The Brandon Road site provides a strategic “choke point” to reduce the risk of upstream movement of Asian carp and other invasive species into Chicago-area waterways that connect to Lake Michigan.
The bill directs federal agencies to develop measures at the existing lock, such as a specially engineered approach channel, in which new technologies, currently being developed, could be deployed to prevent the movement of Asian carp and other aquatic invasive species. The plan would maintain efficient navigation in the river for barges and recreational boats. The bill reflects input from a broad array of stakeholders who were consulted by the bill’s sponsors.
“We applaud Rep. Miller and Sen. Stabenow for introducing this legislation, which responds to calls from the Great Lakes Commission and other regional leaders for swift action to strengthen protections against Asian carp,” said Great Lakes Commission Chairman Kelly Burch, executive director of Oil and Gas Operations with the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection. He noted that in March 2014 the Commission unanimously adopted a detailed policy resolution calling for immediate action on a suite of near-term measures to reduce the risk of movement of Asian carp through the Chicago Area Waterway System.
In November the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that it will evaluate technologies to implement at Brandon Road to assess the site’s viability as a single point to control the one-way, upstream movement of aquatic invasive species from the Mississippi River. This builds on the Corps’ Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study (GLMRIS), which identified eight alternatives for preventing invasive species movement between the two basins. Many of the technologies to be evaluated were identified in GLMRIS.
“Acting now is imperative,” according to Jon Allan, the Commission’s vice chair and director of the Michigan Office of the Great Lakes. “It’s critical that we take action immediately to reduce the risk of Asian carp invading the Great Lakes while we continue to develop a long-term solution to permanently prevent the transfer of all aquatic invasive species between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River watersheds.”
There are 12 additional members of the Michigan delegation who are original co-sponsors of the bill, including Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI) and Reps. Dan Benishek (R-MI), Mike Bishop (R-MI), John Conyers (D-MI), Debbie Dingell (D-MI), Bill Huizenga (R-MI), Dan Kildee (D-MI), Sandy Levin (D-MI), John Moolenaar (R-MI), Dave Trott (R-MI), Fred Upton (R-MI) and Tim Walberg (R-MI).
Other original co-sponsors include Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Al Franken (D-MN), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Rob Portman (R-OH), Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Representatives Sean Duffy (R-WI), David Joyce (R-OH), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Mike Kelly (R-PA), Robert E. Latta (R-OH), Rick Nolan (D-MN) and Louise Slaughter (D-NY).
The new legislation supports investigation of permanent measures to prevent the movement of species threatening both the Mississippi River system and the Great Lakes. It directs federal agencies to work with the state of Illinois, the city of Chicago and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago to address impacts to water quality, flooding and transportation, resulting from actions to prevent aquatic invasive species transfer through the Chicago Area Waterway System.
Important to these efforts is the Advisory Committee for the Chicago Area Waterway System, representing more than 30 stakeholder groups, that is working to develop consensus recommendations on short- and long-term solutions to prevent the interbasin transfer of aquatic invasive species, while also maintaining or enhancing transportation, maritime commerce, water quality, recreation and flood protection in the region. The Commission, through its resolution, recognized the significant role for the committee in providing recommendations on feasible near-term actions and identifying the best long-term solution. The Commission is committed to working with the other members of the committee and using the committee as a forum to refine next steps and identify a long-term solution as this new legislation and other efforts move forward.
Introduction of the “Defending Our Great Lakes Act” today coincides with a Great Lakes Day in Washington Congressional Breakfast reception, an annual event hosted by the Great Lakes Commission and the Northeast-Midwest Institute to convey a unified message to Congress expressing the Great Lakes region’s priorities for legislation and appropriations to protect the environment and support the economy. A list of federal priorities shared by the Great Lakes Commission and other regional partners is available at http://glc.org/docs/2015-glc-regional-priorities.
[Note that this statement is released on behalf of the Great Lakes Commission and not the Advisory Committee for the Chicago Area Waterway System.]
Contact: Tim Eder, 734-971-9135 (office), 734-604-7281 (cell), email@example.com
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The Great Lakes Commission, chaired by Kelly Burch, executive director of oil and gas operations for the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection, is an interstate compact agency established under state and U.S. federal law and dedicated to promoting a strong economy, healthy environment and high quality of life for the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence region and its residents. The Commission consists of governors’ appointees, state legislators, and agency officials from its eight member states. Associate membership for Ontario and Québec was established through the signing of a “Declaration of Partnership.” The Commission maintains a formal Observer program involving U.S. and Canadian federal agencies, tribal authorities, binational agencies and other regional interests. The Commission offices are located in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Learn more at www.glc.org.