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 generations to come.
Maintaining the Integrity of the Great Lakes
The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) 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 preserve our Great Lakes for generations to come.
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.
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, and I was glad to see President Obama sign our bipartisan legislation into law at the end of 2015.
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 Nuclear Regulatory Commission (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.
In July 2019, I joined a bipartisan group of members from our Michigan Congressional delegation to visit the Brandon Road Lock and Dam near Joliet, Illinois. In May 2019, the Army Corps of Engineers sent Congress a plan to install noisemakers, electric cables and other devices at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam in order to prevent Asian carp from spreading into Lake Michigan. We need to secure the resources necessary to implement this plan and ensure Asian carp stay out of our Great Lakes.