This past month has been tremendous for the Great Lakes. There were developments on three different fronts: funding for constructing a new lock at the Soo Locks, funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, and a new plan to prevent Asian carp from entering Lake Michigan through the waterways near Chicago.
On May 21, I voted for legislation in the House Appropriations Committee that fulfilled President Donald Trump’s request for $75.3 million to start building a new lock at the Soo Locks.
This is historic progress.
After decades of inaction, Trump spurred the development forward when he pledged his support for building a new lock in April 2018 following a conversation with me, Congressman Jack Bergman of Watersmeet, and Congressman Paul Mitchell of Dryden.
As Michigan’s senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, I then went to work and advocated for the funding with my colleagues on the committee. That effort was rewarded with the funding being included in legislation.
I will continue to support this funding as it moves forward in Congress because building a new lock is vital to Great Lakes shipping, the economy, good-paying manufacturing jobs, and the national security of our country.
Already, the Army Corps of Engineers has begun the process of looking for engineers and others who will begin working on the design and construction of a new lock. This exciting development is moving forward!
Another major success for our Great Lakes last month was the inclusion of the funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative in legislation passed by the Appropriations Committee.
Congress has passed this funding every year despite previous budget proposals from presidents Obama and Trump trying to reduce it.
In fact, in a famous announcement earlier this year, Trump became the first president in years to publicly support $300 million for GLRI. His announcement came directly after Congressman Bergman, Congressman Bill Huizenga of Zeeland, and I urged him to support the GLRI and we are thankful he did.
After years of work, my colleagues and I have built a strong bipartisan coalition of support for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative including Republicans, Democrats and Trump. This broad base of support will help ensure GLRI is fully funded in 2020.
Finally, on May 23, the Army Corps of Engineers announced a new plan to prevent Asian carp from getting into Lake Michigan through the waterways around Chicago.
The plan at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam will use an electric barrier and other technologies to stop Asian carp from coming through the waterways near Chicago. Asian carp are an invasive species and they would threaten every other species of fish in the Lakes, putting the environment, fishing, recreation, and tourism at risk. The new plan from the Army Corps is an overdue step in the right direction.
A new Lock is on the way, restoration for the Great Lakes is being funded, and there is a plan to stop Asian carp. All of these developments made May a great month for the Great Lakes and will help ensure future generations are able to enjoy all the Lakes have to offer for years to come.
Congressman John Moolenaar represents Michigan’s Fourth Congressional District, which is made up of Clare, Clinton, Gladwin, Gratiot, Isabella, Mecosta, Midland, Missaukee, Ogemaw, Osceola, Roscommon, Shiawassee and Wexford counties, and parts of Montcalm and Saginaw counties.