U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn) and Al Franken (D-Minn.) are backing a new bipartisan effort to help prevent the spread of Asian carp which threatens Minnesota's economy.
The senators are cosponsoring the reintroduction of the Strategic Response to Asian Carp Invasion Act, which would create a coordinated federal response to the Asian carp threat and enable the federal government to work more effectively with state and local entities in the fight to end 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," Sen. Klobuchar said. "This legislation will 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 support this legislation because we still desperately need a definitive plan to control and prevent Asian carp from entering 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 coordinate 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 diligently with members of both parties on legislative efforts to stop Asian Carp from destroying 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.
Last 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.
In 2012, Sen. Klobuchar toured the University of Minnesota St. Anthony Falls Laboratory to highlight new efforts to fight the spread of Asian carp. She has also been working to target resources toward upgrading the Coon Rapids Dam - an effective barrier for preventing the spread of Asian carp in the Upper Mississippi River watershed. In 2011, she attended Governor Mark Dayton's Asian Carp Summit to stress the need for state officials to formalize an Asian carp action plan and urge bipartisan support to halt the species.
In 2012, Sen. Franken joined top federal and state officials who oversee the health of Minnesota waterways on a boat tour of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers to see firsthand the challenges in fighting the spread of invasive species.
Sen. Franken originally introduced the Strategic Response to Asian Carp Invasion Act with Senators Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) in 2012.