U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken (D-Minn.) today announced that an amendment to fight the spread of Asian carp that threaten Minnesota's economy passed the Senate by a unanimous vote. The Strategic Response to Asian Carp Invasion Act, introduced by Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and cosponsored by Sens. Klobuchar and Franken, would amend the Water Resources Development Act to help create a coordinated federal response to the Asian carp threat, enabling the federal government to work more effectively with state and local entities to help fight the spread of the invasive species in waterways around the country.
"The spread of Asian carp into the Great Lakes not only threatens the health of our waterways, it also threatens Minnesota's recreation and fishing industries that are vital to our state's economy," said Sens. Klobuchar. "This amendment will help ensure that we have all hands on deck to fight this invasive species and protect our economy and our ecosystems."
"The spread of Asian carp in Minnesota's lakes and rivers would prove disastrous for our fishing, boating, and tourism industries, which support thousands of jobs and contribute billions of dollars to our state's economy," said Sen. Franken. "I'm very pleased the Senate approved this measure because we must control and prevent the further spread of Asian carp in the streams and rivers in our state."
Although several federal agencies have been working to combat Asian carp, none has been designated as the lead agency to coordinate the federal response with state and local partners in the Ohio and Upper Mississippi River Basins.
Under the bill, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will establish a new federal multi-agency effort that includes the National Park Service, U.S. Geological Survey, and Army Corps of Engineers. These agencies would provide high-level technical assistance, coordination, best practices, and other means of support to state and local governments that are working to protect economies and ecosystems in the Upper Mississippi and Ohio River basin from Asian carp.
The senators have worked with members of both parties on legislative efforts to stop Asian carp from wreaking havoc on the Great Lakes' ecosystem. In June 2012, they helped to pass the Stop Invasive Species Act, which requires 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.
Earlier this year, the senators, along with Representatives Keith Ellison, Erik Paulsen, and Tim Walz, introduced The Upper Mississippi Conservation and River Protection Act (Upper Mississippi CARP Act) which would kick-start the process to consider closing the Upper St. Anthony Falls Dam to help stop the spread of the invasive species, as well as require immediate closure if Asian carp are found. In addition, the bill would direct federal agencies to partner with Minnesota on efforts to root out infestations and prevent the spread of Asian carp in the state's rivers.