Washington, D.C. — Today, the bipartisan House Great Lakes Task Force Co-Chairs Representatives Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Debbie Dingell (D-MI), David Joyce (R-OH), and Bill Huizenga (R-MI), along with Bill Foster (D-IL) and Jack Bergman (R-MI), led a group of 32 Members of Congress in sending a bipartisan letter to Office of Budget and Management (OMB) Acting Director Shalanda Young and Acting Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Jaime A. Pinkham outlining the Task Force’s budget priorities for the Great Lakes region in FY2022.
“There is no shortage of bipartisan support for the Great Lakes in this Congress,” said the Members in a joint statement. “This letter represents a strong bipartisan and regionally diverse consensus held among Democratic and Republican Members of Congress from across the Great Lakes region that the Great Lakes deserve robust investment and attention in FY 2022. Together, we call on the Administration to allocate sufficient funding to combat Asian Carp, make necessary improvements to the Soo Locks, and successfully carry out both the Great Lakes Resiliency Study and the Great Lakes Fishery and Ecosystem Restoration program. Every dollar spent on these projects will have a profoundly positive impact on our region. We look forward to working closely with the Administration on a bipartisan basis to improve the Great Lakes eco-system and infrastructure as a means to improve the lives of millions in our region who depend on the Great Lakes every day.”
Cosigners include: Bill Foster, Jack Bergman, Tim Ryan, Gwen Moore, Anthony Gonzalez, Haley Stevens, Mike Quigley, Andy Levin, Fred Upton, Lisa McClain, Chris Jacobs, Joseph Morelle, Frank J. Mrvan, Robin L. Kelly, Pete Stauber, Rashida Tlaib, Bobby L. Rush, Elise Stefanik, Mike Gallagher, Bradley S. Schneider, Mike Kelly, Sean Casten, Elissa Slotkin, John Moolenaar, Daniel T. Kildee, Peter Meijer, Jackie Walorski, and John Katko.
The full text of the letter is available here and below.
Dear Mr. Pinkham and Ms. Young,
As members of the House Great Lakes Task Force, we write to urge the Administration to include funding in the fiscal year (FY) 2022 budget request for the following projects of critical importance to the Great Lakes and to our states and regional economies.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) is undertaking multiple efforts to stop Asian carp from reaching the Great Lakes. These actions are critical to protecting the Great Lakes ecosystem, our $7 billion recreational fishing and $16 billion boating industries.
In May of 2019, the Corps sent Congress an approved Chief’s Report for a plan to build a comprehensive suite of measures to counter Asian carp at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam, a critical choke point to halt the spread of invasive species in the Illinois River. Presently, the electric dispersal barriers in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal (CSSC) are the only structural measures to deter Asian carp from reaching Lake Michigan.
To prevent Asian carp from reaching the Great Lakes we ask that the Administration request $4.94 million for Preconstruction Engineering and Design (PED) work at Brandon Road and $16.7 million for operations and maintenance of the CSSC electric dispersal barriers in the FY 2022 budget request. We also request that the Asian Carp coordinating activities be funded at $350,000 within the investigations account for stakeholder coordination and engagement.
Great Lakes Coastal Resiliency Study
The Great Lakes coastline faces numerous threats, such as lake level fluctuations, erosion, flooding, nutrient runoff, and aging infrastructure. Unprecedented high-water levels continue to batter shores, cause flooding, and damage infrastructure. These record water levels could once again be surpassed in 2021. A comprehensive plan is needed to help our states and local communities deal with these challenges.
For several years, we have strongly supported the initiation of the Great Lakes Coastal Resiliency Study. Developed in consultation with Great Lakes states and a host of other federal and non-federal partners, the study would result in a coordinated strategy to identify, manage, and protect the Great Lakes and its 5,200-mile coastline. The study was first authorized in the America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 and was further refined in the Water Resources Development Act of 2020.
The Great Lakes Coastal Resiliency Study is needed more today than ever. We urge you to request full funding for this study as a new start in the FY 2022 budget.
The Soo Locks at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan serve as a gateway to transport nearly 80 million tons of goods and raw material that supply the region’s manufacturing, mining, and agricultural industries. The June 29, 2018, Economic Validation Study and Post Authorization Change Report for the Soo Lock project noted that “the strategic importance of the Soo Locks cannot be overstated.” Further, a report by the Department of Homeland Security concluded it was “hard to conceive” of a single piece of infrastructure more consequential in terms of impact to the economy from an unexpected and sustained closure.
Of the two operational locks at the Soo Locks facility, only the Poe has the necessary dimensions for the largest vessels to pass. Building a second Poe-sized lock will provide the resiliency needed to ensure this critical infrastructure remains open for commerce. To ensure continued, efficient progress we ask that you fully fund the FY 2022 capability for a New Lock at the “Soo” (Sault Ste. Marie Replacement Lock) in the FY 2022 budget request. This will help to ensure this critical project stays on time and on budget.
Additionally, in order to ensure the safety of ships passing through the existing Soo Locks, and to ensure that the existing locks remain open for critical commerce, we ask that you include $37,300,000 for Soo Locks Major Rehabilitation Construction and $69,389,000 for Operation & Maintenance of the St. Mary’s River at the Soo Locks in the FY 2022 budget request.
Great Lakes Fishery and Ecosystem Restoration Program
The Great Lakes Fishery and Ecosystem Restoration (GLFER) program enables the Corps to use its planning, design, and construction expertise for projects to restore the Great Lakes fishery and ecosystem. A wide range of environmental projects can be funded under this program, including restoration of riparian and wetland habitat, dam removal to reestablish free-flowing tributaries, construction of fish passage over existing structures, improving spawning and nursery habitat, and erosion and sedimentation control.
We respectfully request that you include $10 million for this important program in the FY 2022 budget request. This funding will support work in a variety of locations across the Great Lakes in high priority ecosystems, and conducted in close collaboration with numerous partners.
The programs and funding referenced above are supported by a broad bicameral and bipartisan coalition of Great Lakes Members because they advance the national interest. We look forward to working collaboratively with the Administration on these critical issues and appreciate your consideration of these requests.