Senator Levin Keeps Fighting for Great Lakes Dredging (USA)

Senator Levin Keeps Fighting for Great Lakes Dredging

Every year, Senator Levin prepares a report summarizing his key legislative activities. Regarding the protection of the Great Lakes and the environment, some of the Senator Levin’s accomplishments are:

Restoring the Great Lakes

Led effort to help secure funding of $300 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, an inter-agency initiative that works to clean up toxics, combat invasive species, prevent polluted runoff from watersheds, and restore wetlands and other vital habitats.

Cleaning Up Great Lakes Toxics

Helped secure funding for the Great Lakes Legacy Act to remove contaminants at Great Lakes “Areas of Concern.” This funding led to the November 2013 announcement by the Environmental Protection Agency of the completion of the Deer Lake AOC cleanup.

Protecting Against Aquatic Invasive Species

Worked to include a provision in the Senate-passed Water Resources Development Act that would authorize the Army Corps of Engineers to implement emergency measures to prevent Asian carp and other invasive species from dispersing into the Great Lakes from the Mississippi River basin. Levin also requested that this provision be included in the FY 2014 omnibus appropriations act.

The FY 2014 omnibus appropriations act also provides funding of over $30 million for the Corps to operate the electric dispersal barrier in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal and to further evaluate and design a longer-term solution.

Bolstered Research and Technology Development to Fight Invasive Species and Improve Great Lakes Fisheries

Supported construction of a new $7 million, 7,600 square foot laboratory facility at the Hammond Bay Biological Station, which will conduct cutting-edge research on innovative control technologies for sea lamprey and other invasive species. The U.S. Geological Service made this investment decision in 2013, and groundbreaking is expected in 2015 with completion in 2016.

Improving the Great Lakes Navigation System

Led efforts to include several provisions in the Senate-passed Water Resources Development Act to direct more funding to dredging and other maintenance requirements of Great Lakes harbors and channels:

– One provision would increase authorized spending for harbor maintenance projects to $1 billion for harbor maintenance in FY 2014 compared to about $850 million in 2012, and raising authorizations by an additional $100 million every year through 2019 for a total of $1.5 billion per year from 2020 onward. This provision makes progress toward Levin’s Harbor Maintenance Act, S. 218, to increase harbor maintenance funding.

– Another provision would set aside 20 percent of authorized harbor maintenance funds above FY 2012 levels for Great Lakes projects.

– Finally, the bill includes a Levin amendment that clarifies that maintaining the dimensions of harbors and ports is the primary purpose of the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund, which should help protect funding for the Great Lakes.

Securing Funding for Great Lakes Dredging

In the FY 2014 omnibus appropriations act, secured funding of $95 million – an increase of about $11 million from 2013 – for dredging of Great Lakes harbors and channels, operation and maintenance of locks, and repair of breakwaters. Also helped secure an additional $200 million in funding for navigation projects across the country, funding for which Great Lakes projects will be able to compete.

Funding for Emergency Great Lakes Navigation Needs

Worked with appropriators, including entering into a colloquy on the Senate floor with the chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee, to secure $61 million in supplemental appropriations to address damage to Great Lakes harbors and channels resulting from Superstorm Sandy.

Emergency Dredging to Re-Open the Saginaw River for Navigation

Worked with the Army Corps of Engineers to direct emergency funding of $1.2 million to dredge the Saginaw River, which was needed due to significant sedimentation and shoaling as a result of heavy storms and flooding.

Redevelopment of Harbor at Great Lakes Maritime Academy at Northwestern Michigan College

The Great Lakes Maritime Academy at Northwestern Michigan College is one of six state maritime academies in the country and the only one on freshwater. Over the last five years, NMC has been working with the Army Corps of Engineers, under their Section 107 Small Navigation Project authorization, to complete the redevelopment of their harbor on West Grand Traverse Bay. Since 2008, Levin has secured priority funding for this project three times, having it named in the Energy and Water appropriations bills. As a result, the Army Corps of Engineers began construction in the fall of 2013 on this $2.3 million dollar project.

Watershed Restoration

Helped secure nearly $1,000,000 in funding for dam removal, stream connectivity and habitat restoration in Northern Lower Michigan, improving the region’s ecosystem and contributing to an increase in recreational tourism.

Flint River Restoration

Supported the city of Flint’s successful application for the USDA Forestry Program grant for $400,000 for 2013. This grant will allow Flint to continue planting trees at Chevy in the Hole to help remove contaminants from the area, which is adjacent to the Flint River.

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Press Release, February 13, 2014

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