Bipartisan legislation to stop Asian carp from destroying the Great Lakes' ecosystem passed both houses of Congress today and is now poised to become law. The Stop Invasive Species Act, written by Congressman Dave Camp and U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow and supported by Members of Congress in both parties, would require the expedited creation of a plan to block Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes through a number of rivers and tributaries across the Great Lakes region.
Congressman Camp introduced the bill in the House and Senator Stabenow introduced the bill in the Senate.
"It's a great day for the Great Lakes," Congressman Dave Camp (R-MI) said. "We're finally moving toward an actionable plan to permanently prevent Asian carp from destroying the Great Lakes and the $7 billion fishing industry and 800,000 jobs they support. Before, we've had temporary fixes; this legislation puts us on the path towards a lasting solution."
"Michigan needs action now to stop Asian carp and other invasive species from devastating our Great Lakes and the hundreds of thousands of jobs that depend on them," said Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI). "Temporary fixes have proven inadequate and this dangerous invasive species is now on the Great Lakes' doorstep. Congress must pass this bill to require quick action on a permanent solution to stop Asian carp."
"We must protect the Great Lakes from Asian Carp, and the passage of the Stop Invasive Species Act today is a necessary step in that effort. Our bill requires the Army Corps of Engineers to accelerate the release of their final action plan for preventing these harmful, invasive species from entering our waterways," said Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), the bill's lead Republican cosponsor in the Senate. "During this time of economic uncertainty, we cannot afford to let this threat harm tourism, weaken the boating industry, or threaten the 100,000 fishing industry jobs in Ohio."
"The issue of Asian Carp and other invasive species in the Great Lakes has tremendous implications for fishing, shipping and recreation -- all of which are vital activities within Western New York and have long term impact on the economy of the region," said Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (D-NY). "As Co-Chair of the Congressional Great Lakes Task Force, I am pleased that Congress has moved to address this important issue, and I look forward to continuing the important work of protecting one of our greatest natural resources."
"I'm pleased that Congress is taking another step toward stopping damaging invasive species such as Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes," bill cosponsor Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) said. "Accelerating the Corps of Engineers study will put us on a better track to protect a $7 billion Great Lakes fishery that supports thousands of jobs."
"The invasion of Asian carp could grind to a halt Ohio's multi-million dollar fishing and boating industries," bill cosponsor Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) said. "The Great Lakes, including Lake Erie, remain dangerously vulnerable to an Asian carp invasion. The Stop Invasive Species Act is a bipartisan bill that would ensure a definitive plan to permanently prevent Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes. We must move aggressively and quickly to protect our Lake, including, if necessary, hydrologically separating the Lakes from the Mississippi River."
The Stop Invasive Species Act requires the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to submit to Congress an expedited action plan with options for stopping Asian carp from penetrating the Great Lakes across 18 possible points of entry. The bill requires the Army Corps to submit a progress report to Congress and the President within 90 days of the law's enactment. The full plan would need to be completed within 18 months, meaning the Corps would have to complete its work sometime in 2013.
After Stabenow and Camp introduced their legislation, the Army Corps voluntarily said they would begin work on a plan for permanent solutions for stopping Asian carp. While that announcement was welcome news, the Corps' plan would not present fully completed solutions, and it would focus primarily on the Chicago Waterway System, rather than all of the carp's 18 possible points of entry. The Stop Invasive Species Act requires a completed plan, with proposed solutions for all 18 possible entry ways. The plan would include proposals for engineering and infrastructure projects to block Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes while still allowing shipping transportation across these waterways to continue.
The Stop Invasive Species Act was included as part of comprehensive, bipartisan transportation legislation that must be passed by week's end to keep the country's highway trust fund from going broke. The transportation legislation addresses a wide variety of infrastructure and construction projects across the country. Both houses of Congress passed the bill on a bipartisan basis today and President Obama has said he will sign it.
The bill is supported by the Great Lakes Commission, The Great Lakes Fishery Commission, Alliance for the Great Lakes, Healing our Waters Coalition, National Wildlife Federation and Trout Unlimited.