Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) announced his co-sponsorship on Thursday of a bill aimed at protecting the Great Lakes and encouraging economic growth in the Great Lakes area.
“Protecting Lake Erie is about protecting Ohio’s drinking water and the thousands of fishing, boating, and recreation jobs that are dependent on clean and safe waters,” Brown said. “The Great Lakes Ecological and Economic Protection Act of 2013 is a bipartisan effort to ensure that the Great Lakes, including Lake Erie, are preserved for future generations to enjoy. In addition, Congress must fully fund the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which over the years has helped keep our lake healthy for Ohioans to enjoy and has ensured that Lake Erie and its tributaries can continue to be utilized for commerce and shipping.”
The legislation — the Great Lakes Ecological and Economic Protection Act — was introduced by Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.). The bill would authorize the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and direct the implementation of recommendations developed in 2005, as well as authorize appropriations for the GLRI at $475 million every year.
Additionally, the bill would reauthorize the Great Lakes National Program Office, GLRI, the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, the Great Lakes Legacy Program, the Remedial Action Plans for Areas of Concern and Lakewide Management plans.
The legislation also reauthorizes the Great Lakes Legacy Act of 2002, which has been very successful in removing sediment from areas of concern; authorizes the Federal Interagency Task Force, which includes 11 U.S. cabinet and federal agency heads to coordinate Great Lakes restoration; and authorizes the Great Lakes Advisory Board, which provides environmental recommendations on matters related to the Great Lakes restoration and protection.
The spread of Asian carp in the Great Lakes area has been noted as an area of concern by environmental experts. While several federal agencies have attempted to combat the increasing Asian carp population, none have been designated as the lead agency in coordinating a federal and state response.