WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Wednesday, the Senate is set to pass the Water Resources Development Act, which authorizes several provisions Brown is supporting to protect Lake Erie. After Senate passage, the bill will head to the President’s desk. The bill includes the following priorities supported by Brown:
- Language requiring the Army Corps of Engineers to make every effort to release its Chief’s Report for the Brandon Road Study by February 2019, which Senators Brown and Portman have repeatedly asked of the Army Corps of Engineers. This report is crucial to ensuring that Asian Carp do not enter the Great Lakes and threaten the Great Lakes’ $7 billion fishing industry.
- An increase in authorized funds to modernize the Soo Locks, which serve as a gateway to transport goods and raw materials across the Great Lakes—including shipping iron ore from the Iron Range in Minnesota to steel mills in Ohio. Approximately 80 million tons of iron ore, coal, stone, grain, and other commercial commodities pass through the locks annually but there have been no comprehensive improvements to the Soo Locks facility in nearly 50 years.
- Authorizes funding for the Great Lakes Coastal Resiliency Study (GLCRS). This study, proposed by the Army Corps of Engineers in consultation with the Great Lakes states, would be the first of its kind to coordinate a strategy across the Great Lakes states to most efficiently and effectively manage and protect the Great Lakes coastline. Studies have shown that the coastline plays a critical role to the economy of Great Lakes states. It includes commercial harbors moving over 123 million tons of cargo annually, a maritime economy valued at $17.3 billion that generates 293,000 jobs, and a $14 billion recreation and tourism economy.
“Lake Erie is a source of pride for Ohio -- it’s important for local businesses, local jobs, and the local ecosystem,” said Brown. “These provisions will help us keep Lake Erie clean, keep cargo moving through our ports, and ensure the Lake will be enjoyed for generations to come.”
Brown has long been fighting to protect Lake Erie. In September, President Trump signed the FY 2019 Energy and Water, Legislative Branch, and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act conference report, which included important wins Brown secured to protect Lake Erie. The measure included language prohibiting the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) from dumping toxic material dredged from the Cuyahoga River shipping channel into Lake Erie without the approval from the State of Ohio, as well as language requiring the Corps to make every effort to release its Chief’s Report for the Brandon Road Study by February 2019.
Both Brown and Sen. Rob Portman have fought to hold the Corps to its obligation to fully dredge the shipping channel and dispose of the dredged sediment in a way that protects Lake Erie, which is critical to protect the thousands of jobs that rely on the Port of Cleveland as well as the health and ecosystem of Lake Erie. Legislation they co-authored to keep toxic dredged material from the Cuyahoga River out of Lake Erie was signed into law in December 2016.
In September, Brown and Portman sent a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers urging the Corps to complete their Brandon Road Chief’s Report so that federal, state, and local policymakers can determine the most effective measure to prevent further Asian carp movement and protect the Great Lakes’ $7 billion fishing industry. Last June, an eight-pound Silver carp was found just nine miles from Lake Michigan.
In January, Brown and Portman sent a letter to the Director of the Office of Management and Budget as well as the Acting Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Civil Works) requesting funding for a Great Lakes coastal resiliency study in the President’s FY 2019 budget request.