Today U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) introduced legislation in the Senate, and Congressman Dave Camp (R-MI) introduced legislation in the House, to prevent Asian carp and other invasive species from entering the Great Lakes through the Chicago Waterway. The Stop Asian Carp Act will require the speedy creation of an action plan to permanently separate Lake Michigan from the Chicago Area Waterway System, where experts believe Asian Carp could enter and cause irreparable harm to the Great Lakes.
The introduction of today's legislation comes during "Great Lakes Week," the week in which Great Lakes advocates meet with their elected representatives to discuss the importance of the Lakes to our economy and way of life.
"Asian carp poses a grave threat to our $7 billion fishing industry, $16 billion recreational boating industry and the entire Great Lakes ecosystem," said Sen. Stabenow. "The only way to protect our Great Lakes from Asian carp and other invasive species is to permanently separate the Mississippi River and the Great Lakes. We don't have time to lose. We need a comprehensive action plan to stop Asian Carp and we need it as soon as possible."
"Thousands of people in the tourism and fishing industries rely on a healthy Great Lakes ecosystem for their livelihood. Asian Carp is the number one threat to their way of life," said Sen. Durbin. "With so much at stake, we need to do everything we can to stop this invasive species. Our bill creates an expedited study of how permanent separation of the waterways can be achieved. While this method would require a complex feat of engineering, we need to understand the costs and benefits and whether this method offers the best hope for a long-term solution for containing not only the Carp, but other invasive species."
"Every day, Asian carp pose a greater risk to the Great Lakes ecosystem and the 800,000 jobs it sustains," Rep. Camp said. "There is no time to waste. Our bill will set in motion the process to achieve a permanent solution to keep these devastating fish out of the Great Lakes. The Stop Asian Carp Act is the necessary first step to achieving hydrological separation. In the meantime, I am going to keep working to ensure we're taking every necessary immediate step to keep these fish out of the lakes."
"We applaud this legislation," said Tim Eder, Great Lakes Commission Executive Director. "It reflects a level of concern that more closely matches that of our member states and our Canadian partners. The stakes are just too high and require urgent action."
"Invasive species harm the ecosystem and the economy. We must support every effort to keep Asian carp and other invasive species out of the Great Lakes," said Dr. Mark Gaden, Legislative Liaison for the Great Lakes Fishery Commission. "This legislation, if enacted, would significantly expedite efforts to cut Asian Carp off at their key potential point of entry."
The Stop Asian Carp Act requires the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to create an action plan that includes the best options for permanently separating the Mississippi River Basin from Lake Michigan. Creation of the plan must begin within 30 days of the bill's enactment, and the Army Corps must send a progress report to Congress and the President within six months and again in 12 months. The full plan must be completed and given to Congress and the President 18 months after the bill is enacted. It will be monitored by the Council on Environmental Quality to ensure its thorough and timely completion.
The Corp would also examine other modes of transportation for the shipping industry and influence new engineering designs to move canal traffic from one body of water to the other without transferring invasive species.
The bill is cosponsored in the Senate by Sens. Stabenow, Durbin, Levin, Brown, Schumer, Klobuchar, and Gillibrand. Twenty-one House Members are cosponsoring the bill, including every Member of the Michigan delegation.