Growing up on the shores of Lake Michigan has instilled in me a deep appreciation for Michigan’s wildlife and natural resources. As an active member of the Great Lakes Caucus, I have an extensive record of working in a bipartisan manner to protect the Great Lakes watershed and preserve the beauty of our lakes for future generations.
In 2015, I helped usher a bipartisan piece of legislation through Congress that would ban synthetic plastic microbeads. Microbeads are tiny scrubbers found in cleansers, body scrubs, and toothpaste. While nearly invisible, smaller than a pinhead, microbeads cause big problems once they are flushed down the drain. Because they are so small, microbeads easily flow through water filtration systems and end up in bodies of water, like the Great Lakes, where they can destroy wildlife and even poison fish. This is why we worked so hard to ban these microbeads. President Obama signed our bipartisan legislation into law at the end of 2015.
Improving U.S. Pipeline Safety
Maintaining the integrity of our nation’s 2.5 million miles of pipeline infrastructure is absolutely essential to ensure the safe and affordable delivery of energy to folks here in Michigan and across the country. That is why I worked across the aisle with Congressman John Dingell (MI-15), the former Democratic Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, to craft and shepherd through the bipartisan Pipeline Infrastructure and Community Protection Act (H.R. 2937), which ensures vital updates and improvements are made in U.S. pipeline safety. I am very pleased to note that a final agreement on pipeline safety legislation was signed into law in January 2012. President Obama again signed into law our reauthorization of this legislation in June of 2016.
Supporting the Allied Site Cleanup in Kalamazoo
I remain actively engaged with Kalamazoo City officials and residents who want to see the permanent removal of all PCB-contaminated materials from the Allied Disposal Site. Working with Senators Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow, I have called upon the head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to work with the City to achieve total removal of the waste.
Promoting Nuclear Safety
I have long-supported a permanent storage site for our nation’s used nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste. The need is urgent as spent fuel and waste continues to accumulate at sites across the country that were never designed for long-term storage. The Energy and Commerce Committee has continued to examine the work of the NRC to address the management and disposal of this material to ensure the public and environment remain protected.
Stopping Asian Carp and Other Invasive Species
I continue to work with other Members from the Great Lakes region to ensure we have the proper resources to fend off invasive species, including the Asian carp, round goby, sea lamprey, zebra mussel, and alewife. These large non-native fish and other invasive species threaten to destroy the $70 billion economy supported by the Great Lakes. I support the physical separation of the Great Lakes and Mississippi River water sheds to ensure that future threats from invasive species are mitigated. I do not consider our current infrastructure of electric barriers in the Chicago Area Waterway System a viable long-term solution alone.
I am also an original cosponsor of the Asian Carp Prevention Act (H.R. 985), which directs the Secretary of the Army to coordinate and lead federal actions to prevent the spread of the invasive species in the Great Lakes and its tributaries. This projects may include: installing electric, acoustic, air bubble, or other barriers; applying pesticides; improving the locks; and taking necessary actions at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam near Joliet, Illinois.
H.R. 985 further requires the Secretary to implement the emergency measures recommended in the dispersal barrier efficacy study, or provided in interim reports, authorized by Congress under the Water Resources Development Act of 2007.
Maintaining the Integrity of the Great Lakes
The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is the largest investment in the Great Lakes in two decades. As stewards of the Great Lakes, it is our duty to ensure these precious bodies are protected for future generations. The comprehensive, inter-agency Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) addresses a wide range of problems including invasive species, non-point source pollution, and contaminated sediment. I have always supported robust funding for the GLRI to ensure our Great Lakes remain healthy for future generations.
I am also a proud supporter of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact, which was ratified by each of the eight Great Lakes State legislatures, approved by Congress, and signed into law by President George W. Bush. The Compact includes provisions that prohibit diversion of lake water outside the region and addresses pressing environmental issues.
Fighting to Keep Pollutants out of Lake Michigan
In 2007, I learned that the State of Indiana had given a green light to BP to increase its daily dumping of ammonia and suspended solids into Lake Michigan from its Whiting, Indiana refinery. With the help of the Great Lakes Caucus, we won a tremendous victory that August when BP acquiesced and announced that it would reverse its course of action and not increase dumping of hazardous chemicals into Lake Michigan.
In light of a June 2009 Chicago Tribune story reporting that BP’s Whiting facility has been violating clean air permits for the last six years, I again joined my Great Lakes colleagues in calling for the EPA to immediately review all of BP’s reported ground, water, and air discharges. I will not stand for any actions that put our beloved Great Lakes in jeopardy.