Senators Stabenow and Kirk Elected Chairs of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force

Monday, January 26, 2015

U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) were elected by their Great Lakes colleagues to Chair the Senate Great Lakes Task Force. The Task Force is a bipartisan working group that advocates for the protection of our Great Lakes.

As Chairs, Senators Stabenow and Kirk will convene meetings of members and staff representing the states bordering our Great Lakes and will coordinate efforts to provide agency oversight and advance legislative initiatives and funding priorities.

"No other state has more at stake than Michigan when it comes to the protection of our Great Lakes and the issues we face today are as challenging as ever," said Stabenow. "This is an important leadership role that will continue to give Michigan a strong voice as we work together to protect our Lakes and water resources. I look forward to working with my co-chair, Senator Kirk, and our task force members as we tackle these critical challenges."

"As Co-Chairs, my colleague Senator Stabenow and I are committed to cleaning up toxic hot spots, removing the threat of invasive species and ending sewage dumping in the Great Lakes, the Crown Jewel of the Midwest's ecosystem, once and for all," said Kirk. "It is crucial that we work together with this bipartisan Task Force to protect the reverence of the lakes and ensure they remain clean and contaminant-free for the next generation."

Sen. Stabenow's record on Great Lakes issues is longstanding. Her first legislation to pass the Senate was a ban on drilling for oil and gas in the Great Lakes. She authored the bipartisan Stop Invasive Species Act to address the threat from Asian carp, has championed the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative through Congress, and authored the 2014 Farm Bill, which included a historic investment in land and water conservation.

Senator Kirk has served as a Co-Chair of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force since 2011 and believes the lakes are our country's most precious natural resource. Throughout his time in Congress, Kirk has fought to restore contaminated hot spots, such as Waukegan Harbor in Illinois, to their full economic and environmental potential. The Senator continues to work across the aisle and with local stakeholders to advance legislation to ban sewage dumping in the Great Lakes and combat the threat of invasive species. Additionally, Kirk has co-authored comprehensive Great Lakes legislation to authorize key programs to restore and protect the Great Lakes, including the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI).

The Senate Great Lakes Task Force was founded in the mid-1980s and is associated with the Northeast-Midwest Institute.