WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Al Franken (D-Minn.) have helped introduce bipartisan legislation to stop the spread of invasive carp and other invasive species from entering the Great Lakes.
The bill, called the Defending Our Great Lakes Act, will give federal agencies the authority they need to take actions to curb the spread of invasive species like invasive carp.
"Protecting our lakes and rivers is a fundamental part of Minnesota's heritage," said Klobuchar in a news release. "Invasive carp not only threaten our environment, but also threaten Minnesota's strong recreation and fishing industries, which are critical to our state's economy. We must do everything we can to protect our waterways, including moving this legislation forward to help stop the spread of invasive carp."
"Minnesota's fishing, boating, and tourism industries depend on the health of our waterways, which are currently threatened by the spread of invasive species," said Franken in a news release. "We can't overlook this issue any longer, and that's why I helped introduce this legislation to take both immediate action and a long-term coordinated response to stopping the spread of invasive carp in the Great Lakes region."
Under the Defending Our Great Lakes Act, the Army Corps of Engineers will lead federal efforts to prevent the spread of invasive carp and other invasive species in coordination with local, state, and regional officials. The Army Corps of Engineers will be required to report to Congress within 18 months and each year thereafter.
The bill was introduced today by Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and was also co-sponsored by a bipartisan group including Sens. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).
This legislation is supported by the Great Lakes Commission, Great Lakes Fishery Commission, National Wildlife Federation, Great Lakes Metro Chamber of Commerce, Healing our Waters Coalition, Alliance for the Great Lakes, Michigan Trout Unlimited, Michigan Conservation Clubs.
Klobuchar has worked with members of both parties on legislative efforts to stop invasive carp from destroying the Great Lakes' ecosystem. She was recently named as a vice chair of the U.S. Senate Great Lakes Task Force, a bipartisan working group that advocates for the protection of the Great Lakes. Last Congress, she authored a provision to help keep invasive carp out of the state's waterways by closing the Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock within one year of enactment. The provision passed as part of the Water Resources and Development Act in May 2014.
Franken has been a leader in helping to fight the spread of invasive carp. In 2012, he helped pass the bipartisan Stop Invasive Species Act, which President Obama signed into law. He also helped successfully press to close the Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock.
In February, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reported it will reopen the Upper St. Anthony Falls lock for a short period prior to the June 10 mandated closure. The lock will reopen for about 2.5 months. The Corps reported it considered "every opinion and decided to open the lock to navigation for a brief period this spring to allow businesses to transport and stockpile materials prior to the permanent closure."
"We fully recognize that this decision will be applauded by some and criticized by others," said Col. Dan Koprowski, St. Paul District commander in a news release. "This is not a decision I made lightly. Certainly reopening the lock carries some limited risk, but that risk had to be balanced against the cost to the businesses that will be forced to transition away from inland waterway navigation as a result of the lock closure. After a great deal of consultation and careful consideration of the potential risks, I decided to reopen the lock for a brief period this spring in order to provide those businesses the opportunity to prepare for that transition."