Senators Stabenow, Peters Cosponsor Great Lakes Protection Bill

Legislation Would Formally Authorize Efforts to Restore the Health of Great Lakes

Friday, February 13, 2015

U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow, Co-chair of the Great Lakes Task Force, and Gary Peters, member of the Great Lakes Task Force, today announced they are cosponsoring the bipartisan Great Lakes Ecological and Economic Protection Act (GLEEPA), a bill which would bolster ongoing efforts to protect and restore one of Michigan's most important ecological treasures by equipping communities with the tools they need to combat invasive species, protect wildlife habitats and improve water quality in the Great Lakes. The legislation, led by Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Mark Kirk (R-IL), will also enhance the coordination of federal efforts to restore the Great Lakes to ensure they continue to serve as an economic driver for the State of Michigan.

"Just like generations before us, it is our responsibility to protect and preserve the Great Lakes," said Sen. Stabenow. "With the Great Lakes facing numerous threats from invasive species like Asian carp and water contamination, there must be a larger commitment to protect our Lakes for years to come. Michigan's economy relies on the Great Lakes' multi-billion dollar fishing, boating, and tourism industries, and this bill will help protect those jobs and our Michigan way of life."

"The strength of Michigan's economy and the well-being of our environment are deeply intertwined with the health of the Great Lakes, which continue to face serious threats ranging from industrial pollution to invasive species," said Sen. Peters. "Ensuring we have the resources and focus to improve water quality in the world's largest system of fresh surface water will require a sustained and coordinated effort. I supported this legislation to formally authorize federal water cleanup and restoration efforts as a member of the House, and I am committed to working with my colleagues to move this bipartisan bill forward in the Senate."

The Great Lakes Ecological and Economic Protection Act would authorize the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which was launched in 2010 to address water quality and invasive species problems and is the largest investment in the Great Lakes in two decades. Senators Stabenow and Peters have strongly supported funding for this critical investment. The bill would also reauthorize the Great Lakes Legacy program that deals with contaminated sediments and the Great Lakes National Program Office within the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Finally, the bill would establish an Interagency Task Force to streamline the work being done by different stakeholders to restore the Great Lakes. The previous version of this bill was led by former Michigan Senator Carl Levin and cosponsored by Senator Stabenow in the 113th Congress. Senator Peters cosponsored the House version of that bill.