WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) announced that bipartisan legislation to stop Asian carp from destroying the Great Lakes’ ecosystem has passed both houses of Congress today and is now poised to become law.  The Stop Invasive Species Act, of which Brown was an original cosponsor, would require the expedited creation of a plan to block Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes through a number of rivers and tributaries across the Great Lakes region. 

The legislation was originally introduced in April by a bipartisan group of legislators alongside Brown, including U.S. Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Rob Portman (R-OH), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Carl Levin (D-M), Robert Casey (D-PA), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Al Franken (D-MN). The bill is supported by the Great Lakes Commission, The Great Lakes Fishery Commission, Alliance for the Great Lakes, Healing our Waters Coalition, National Wildlife Federation and Trout Unlimited.

“The invasion of Asian carp could grind to a halt Ohio's multi-million dollar fishing and boating industries,” Brown said.  “The Great Lakes, including Lake Erie, remain dangerously vulnerable to an Asian carp invasion. The Stop Invasive Species Act is a bipartisan bill that would ensure a definitive plan to permanently prevent Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes. We must move aggressively and quickly to protect our Lake, including, if necessary, hydrologically separating the Lakes from the Mississippi River.”

The Stop Invasive Species Act requires the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to submit to Congress an expedited action plan with options for stopping Asian carp from penetrating the Great Lakes across 18 possible points of entry.  The bill requires the Army Corps to submit a progress report to Congress and the President within 90 days of the law's enactment. The full plan would need to be completed within 18 months, meaning the Corps would have to complete its work sometime in 2013. 

After the introduction of the legislation, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers voluntarily said they would expedite the creation of a plan for permanent solutions for stopping Asian carp.  While that announcement was welcome news, the Corps’ plan would not present fully-completed solutions, and it would focus primarily on the Chicago Waterway System, rather than all of the carp’s 18 possible points of entry.  The Stop Invasive Species Act requires a completed plan, with proposed solutions for all 18 possible entry ways.  The plan would include proposals for engineering and infrastructure projects to block Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes while still allowing shipping transportation across these waterways to continue.

The Stop Invasive Species Act was included as part of comprehensive, bipartisan transportation legislation that was passed today by both the House and the Senate to keep the country’s highway trust fund from going broke.  The transportation legislation addresses a wide variety of infrastructure and construction projects across the country, and the President is expected to sign it into law tomorrow.