Op-Eds

Bipartisanship key in working to protect Great Lakes

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Kalamazoo, November 11, 2015 | comments

Growing up on the shores of Lake Michigan has instilled in me a deep appreciation for the beauty of our wildlife and natural resources. I spent springs and summers swimming in the lake, autumn hiking trails around Southwest Michigan, and winters building snow forts and playing pick-up hockey on frozen ponds. Anyone who grew up in Michigan, or in the Great Lakes region, can probably relate to these idyllic pastimes.

That is why protecting and preserving our Great Lakes for future generations to enjoy is so important to me.

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 natural beauty for future generations.

Improving pipeline safety is integral to the health of our Great Lakes. In 2011, I reached across the aisle to work with John Dingell, a Democrat from outside Detroit, to craft the bipartisan Pipeline Infrastructure and Community Protection Act, which ensures vital updates and improvements are made in U.S. pipeline safety. The agreement was signed into law by President Obama in 2012. Now we are looking to improve this law to make it even better and safer.

I am an original cosponsor of the Asian Carp Prevention Act, which directs the Secretary of Army to coordinate and lead federal actions to prevent the spread of Asian Carp in the Great Lakes, and importantly, its tributaries.

One issue that recently caught my attention are synthetic plastic microbeads. These are pesky bits of plastic used in personal care products such as face wash, soap, and toothpaste. They can slip through water treatment systems and end up in local streams, rivers, and large bodies of water like the Great Lakes.

In March, I joined Democrat Frank Pallone of New Jersey in sponsoring legislation that would prohibit the sale of personal care products that contain microbeads. I expect this bipartisan legislation to reach the House of Representatives in the next couple months.

I recently signed on as a cosponsor of bipartisan legislation that will help protect our Great Lakes by authorizing the Environmental Protection Agency's Great Lakes Restoration Initiative for Fiscal Year 2016 – Fiscal Year 2020. The initiative targets projects such as the remediation of toxic substances, the prevention and control of invasive species like Asian Carp, protects the restoration of near-shore health, and works to restore Great Lakes habitat and wildlife.

Our Great Lakes really are the lifeline of Southwest Michigan, and communities across the region. Working in a bipartisan manner I know that we can uphold the natural beauty so that our kids and grandkids can enjoy the exquisite beauty of the Great Lakes.

Just like we did.

Read online via the Kalamazoo Gazette here.
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