With Great Lakes Week kicking off in Cleveland today, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) released the following statement today calling for more to be done to protect Lake Erie and the thousands of jobs it supports. Brown has repeatedly called for full funding of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and fought to pass new legislation, the Stop Invasive Species Act, which requires action on permanent solutions to stop the invasive Asian carp from entering Lake Erie. According to the State of Ohio, Lake Erie is responsible for $11 billion in visitor spending alone.
"Lake Erie is more than just an idyllic place for Ohio families to spend a summer weekend. It's a major economic driver for our state--from the Port of Toledo to Cedar Point to Geneva on the Lake--and responsible for thousands of fishing, boating, and recreation jobs," Brown said. "An Asian carp invasion would cause irreparable damage to these multi-billion dollar industries. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers must carefully study every option for permanently blocking this invasive species from entering the Great Lakes, including hydrologically separating the Lakes from the Mississippi River.
"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," Brown continued. "As a member of the Appropriations Committee, I am committed to ensuring that this important program is kept intact in 2013. We must do all we can to protect and preserve Lake Erie."
The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is an interagency effort to target the most significant problems in the region and jumpstart restoration efforts to protect, maintain, and restore the chemical, biological, and physical integrity of the Great Lakes. GLRI funding has helped support the removal of invasive species and plants in Ohio, funded the Toledo Harbor Sediment Management Plan, and provided resources for a comprehensive monitoring program to assess the nearshore Lake Erie water quality.
The Stop Invasive Species Act, cosponsored by Brown and signed into law by the President in July, requires the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to expedite the 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. 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 the introduction of the legislation, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers voluntarily said that it would expedite the creation of 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.