Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Levin, Kirk introduce bipartisan legislation to protect the Great Lakes; Levin comments on June 26 Supreme Court rulings

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Sen. Carl Levin was one of a group of Great Lakes senators who today introduced bipartisan legislation to authorize a comprehensive array of programs to protect the Great Lakes.

The Great Lakes Ecological and Economic Protection Act (GLEEPA) would address invasive species, speed cleanup of contaminated sediments, protect fragile Great Lakes habitat and improve water quality for the more than 40 million people who get their drinking water from the Great Lakes.

The lead sponsors of the bill are Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., and Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., co-chairs of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force. Additional sponsors are Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.; Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.; Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio; Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill.; Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn.; Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.; and Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis.

"The Great Lakes are essential to the health, safety and economic prospects of millions of people in Michigan and the entire region," Sen. Levin said. "But toxic contamination, invasive species such as Asian carp, fouled coastlines and compromised habitats present an enormous challenge that requires sustained, coordinated effective action -- action our legislation is designed to spur."

Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill, joined Democratic senators sponsoring the bill.

"Protecting the Great Lakes means preventing the spread of invasive species, the dumping of harmful pollutants, and ensuring they remain a clean source of drinking water for 30 million Americans," said Sen. Kirk. "The Great Lakes economy supports over 1.5 million jobs, and I am proud to join Senator Levin in introducing this bill to improve the quality of the Great Lakes for future generations." *

Levin and Kirk introduced similar legislation in 2012.

GLEEPA would do the following:
  • Formally authorize the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, a multi-agency effort President Obama initiated in 2009 to focus on the most pressing challenges to the lakes, including invasive species, toxic contamination and run-off pollution;
  • Reauthorize the Great Lakes Legacy Act program, which supports removal of contaminated sediments at more than 30 sites; and the Great Lakes Program Office of the Environmental Protection Agency; and
  • Establish an interagency task force, supported by an advisory board, to ensure efficient coordination of federal programs, efficient use of taxpayer dollars and close coordination among local, state and federal governments in the United States and Canada.
* Editor's Note: Recently Sen. Kirk joined Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., in the Senate and Illinois U.S. Congressmen Daniel Lipinski, D-Western Springs, and Randy Hultgren, R-Winfield, to introduce the Great Lakes Water Protection Act, which would end sewage dumping, a primary contributing factor to beach closures, in the Great Lakes by 2033. The Great Lakes Water Protection Act increases fines to up to $100,000 a day per violation and provides communities 20 years to upgrade their sewage treatment facilities. Currently, fines are capped at $37,500 per day.

Levin statement on today’s Supreme Court Rulings

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., made the following statement today, June 26:

"Today’s Supreme Court rulings are victories for equality and for simple human dignity. I favored repeal of DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) because it falls short of its ideal of equality under the law. The Supreme Court’s recognition of that truth is in keeping with our best traditions and will give millions of Americans the legal protections to which they are fully entitled under our Constitution. I’m hopeful that our nation’s centuries-long march toward equality will continue to move forward."

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