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Public Statements

Department of Defense Appropriations Act - Continued

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Ms. STABENOW. Mr. President, I share my colleague's deep concern with the low water levels in the Great Lakes. This is, without a doubt, a disaster for the communities who rely on our harbors and waterways. The Great Lakes provide jobs for more than 800,000 Michigan residents, and low water levels in the lakes are threatening those jobs. The Great Lakes support a $7 billion fishing industry, and a $16 billion recreational boating industry. However, weather disasters this year have resulted in water levels in the Great Lakes near record lows. Normally we count on spring rains and snow melt-off to raise the level of the lakes. But this spring we saw only a 4 inch rise in Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, one-third of the normal level. And for the first time on record, there was no spring rise in levels of Lake St. Clair and Lake Erie. Due in part to the summer heat wave, at the height of which every single one of Michigan's 83 counties was declared a disaster area, 2012 was also marked by evaporation rates over 50 percent above average for the 4 largest lakes. There is no question that the shipping channels and harbors of the Great Lakes are in distress. We cannot reverse the drought, but we can support the dredging projects necessary to ensure that the 139 Federal harbors and waterways in the Great Lakes region can continue to serve our Nation's economy.

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