WASHINGTON, Dec. 15 (UPI) -- Three members of Congress, all from lakeside states, have put forward legislation that would ramp up the Great Lakes defense against Asian carp invasion.
The bipartisan legislation was introduced by Congressman Dave Camp, R-Mich., and Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., in the House, and by Senator Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., in the Senate.
The bills call for interim improvements to the Brandon Road Lock and Dam in Joliet, Illinois, as well as structural upgrades for the Chicago waterway system. The legislation would also force federal and regional authorities to redouble efforts to find a long term solution for protecting the Great Lakes and the economies that rely upon them.
"After years of study, we must begin making tangible progress to safeguard the Great Lakes ecosystem and the $7 billion economy it supports -- and that is exactly what this bill would do," Representative Camp said in a press release.
Studies suggests invasive carp have not yet infiltrated the Great Lakes, but reproducing populations have been found in a number of nearby tributaries. With the Great Lakes and its ecosystems also threatened by growing algae blooms and other invasive species, like zebra mussels, stemming the encroaching threat of insatiable, fast-multiplying Asian carp remains paramount among conservation priorities.
Federal agencies have been weighing a variety of defense options in recent years, but critics contend their plans are slow-forming and would be ineffective.
"The federal government's response to invasive species over the years has largely been reactive, not proactive, and we have paid a dear price," Representative Slaughter added. "We have to take this problem head on, which is why I'm proud to introduce with my colleagues the Guarding Our Great Lakes Act."
The legislation was also co-sponsored by Senators Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc., Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Carl Levin. D-Mich., as well as Congresswoman Candice Miller, R-Mich., and Congressman Gary Peters, D-Mich.