WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today announced that the year-end appropriations bill being considered in Congress this week will include language to prevent the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) from dumping harmful dredged material into Lake Erie.
“It’s essential to the Port of Cleveland and northeast Ohio businesses that the Cuyahoga River navigation channel is maintained. Annual dredging is critical to the region’s economic success, but the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers must do it in a way that protects the progress we’ve made in cleaning up Lake Erie,” said Brown. “This provision will ensure that the Corps upholds its long-standing obligation to dredge the Cuyahoga while also ensuring that harmful pollutants aren’t dumped into Lake Erie.”
The language, which Brown helped secure, ensures that open lake dumping is a last resort and is used only if strict environmental standards of the State’s water permitting agency are met. If they are not, the USACE must carry out its financial obligation to manage and dispose of the dredged material.
According to the State of Ohio, more than $10 billion of the state’s nearly $40 billion tourism industry is derived from counties along the Lake Erie shoreline. Further, the Great Lakes play a vital role in transporting food, raw materials, and other goods necessary to support Ohio jobs. But in order for this to continue, the Great Lakes’ harbors and channels must be dredged in an environmentally acceptable manner.
In February 2015, Brown joined 10 senators in writing to Assistant Secretary of the Army and the Chief of Engineers at USACE calling for full funding of Great Lakes navigation projects and to direct additional resources to address a significant dredging backlog.
Brown also introduced the Great Lakes Ecological and Economic Protection Act (GLEEPA), bipartisan legislation aimed at preserving the Great Lakes and bolstering economic growth throughout the Great Lakes region. GLEEPA would protect the Great Lakes from a variety of ecological threats and invasive species like harmful algal blooms and Asian carp by formally authorizing the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI).