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Save the Great Lakes, act on Asian carp

Rep. Candice Miller and Sen. Debbie Stabenow

Asian carp are a real and immediate threat to Michigan's economy and our way of life. Not long ago, an 82-pound carp was found in a river not far from Lake Michigan. If those fish are able to establish breeding populations in the Great Lakes, it will be game over for our $7 billion fishing industry and our $16 billion boating industry.

That's why we have joined forces, as Democrats and Republicans, in the House and the Senate, to call for immediate action to stop Asian carp. Two years ago, we passed a law that required the Army Corps of Engineers to submit an action plan to Congress outlining ways to stop the spread of carp and other invasive species. The Army Corps has proposed several options, including the construction of an engineered channel at the Chicago waterway to put control technologies in place to keep carp out of the Great Lakes.

In response, we have introduced a new bill in Congress, the Defending Our Great Lakes Act, to give the Army Corps the broad authority it needs to fight the spread of invasive species through the Chicago waterway.

Working alongside members of the Michigan delegation and a wide range of stakeholders, including other Great Lakes lawmakers, our bill is our best chance at the moment of halting these fish as they come through the Chicago waterway.

About 25 miles south of Chicago, the Brandon Road Lock and Dam is a critical point in the Chicago waterway system. It is also an 82-year-old structure that is slated for significant modernization. As they are rebuilding that structure, our bill requires the Army Corps to equip the lock and dam with proven technology to stop the spread of Asian carp.

In addition, the bill requires the Army Corps to use the Brandon Road complex as a testing ground for other technologies that can monitor Asian carp and stop them from reaching the Great Lakes. The bill instructs the Army Corps to work closely with the city of Chicago, Great Lakes governors, businesses and environmental groups to address how to stop invasive species while protecting shipping and local commerce, preventing floods and improving water quality.

We need to stop Asian carp, and we also need to rebuild this dam. The most fiscally responsible and environmentally responsible solution is to address both issues at the same time.

For all of us in Michigan, the Great Lakes are more than just a natural wonder. They are the place we took our children to the beach when they were little, and where we now take our grandchildren. The Great Lakes are the backbone of our entire economy, supporting manufacturing, agriculture, tourism, and everything in between. For all of us in Michigan, protecting our Great Lakes is part of our way of life. It might as well be in our DNA. That is why we believe that it is so critical that we all work together to protect these magnificent lakes for generations to come.

U.S. Rep. Candice Miller, R-Harrison Township, represents Michigan's 10th District.

Debbie Stabenow, a Democrat, represents Michigan in the U.S. Senate and co-chairs the Senate's Great Lakes Task Force.