Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, a member of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force, and a bipartisan group of senators have introduced the Great Lakes Ecosystem Protection Act to address the most significant challenges in the Great Lakes ecosystem. The legislation targets invasive species like Asian carp, nonpoint source and nutrient pollution, and will help remediate and restore toxic hot spots throughout the Great Lakes Basin.
“The Great Lakes provide vital natural resources and promote economic activity in communities all along their coasts,” said Casey. “We cannot let the threat of invasive species and pollution dim the lakes’ potential to support jobs in the region, so for communities like Erie, this legislation marks a commitment to working toward preservation and prosperity.”
The legislation includes the following provisions:
-Ensures implementation of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement with Canada;
-Authorizes the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to target the most significant problems facing the basin;
-Reauthorizes the Great Lakes National Program Office within the Environmental Protection Agency to facilitate policy and administrative tasks relating to the Great Lakes
-Reauthorizes the Great Lakes Legacy Act to remove contaminated sediment from areas of concern across the Great Lakes;
-Establishes a Great Lakes Advisory Board to advise on matters pertaining to Great Lakes restoration and protection; and
-Authorizes a Federal Interagency Task Force to coordinate restoration initiatives among the federal agencies.
Casey has been a leader in the effort to protect Lake Erie and prevent an invasion of Asian carp, a news release from his office said. He recently pushed for a law to require the speedy creation of an action plan to block Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes through a number of rivers and tributaries, and has pushed the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency to crack down on the smuggling of live Asian carp into Canada from the United States.