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House Passes Kildee Legislation to Protect Great Lakes from Oil Spills and Natural Disasters

December 3, 2020
Press Release
Bill Updates Decades-Old Great Lakes Environmental Sensitivity Index Maps

WASHINGTON—Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-05), Chief Whip of the House Democratic Caucus, today applauded the passage of S. 1342, the Great Lakes Environmental Sensitivity Index Act, legislation he co-authored with Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI). This bipartisan legislation prioritizes and updates federal mapping of the Great Lakes, which are used to respond to emergencies and protect habitat, species and structures that are most likely to be impacted by a potential oil spill or other major disaster.

The Environmental Sensitivity Index (ESI) maps for the Great Lakes are maintained by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). NOAA announced at a field hearing that the agency updated the ESI maps for two specific priority areas in the Great Lakes, including the Mackinac Straits. Other maps in the Great Lakes, however, have not been updated in over two decades. ESI maps are detailed guides that highlight vulnerable locations, structures and natural resources near the lakeshore.

“The Great Lakes support many Michigan jobs, generate billions of dollars in economic activity and provide drinking water for over 40 million people. We must do everything we can to protect them from harm,” Congressman Kildee said. “If an oil spill or natural disaster occurs in the Great Lakes, our emergency responders must have up-to-date maps and information in order to act quickly and effectively. I am proud to represent 118 miles of beautiful Lake Huron shoreline and in Congress, I will always work with Republicans and Democrats to protect our Great Lakes.”

“The Great Lakes are not only an economic engine and treasured environmental resource – they are simply in our DNA as Michiganders,” Senator Peters said. “It is critical for Michigan and our entire country that protection efforts for the Great Lakes are provided the same resources and attention as other major bodies of water and shorelines. I applaud the House for passing my bipartisan legislation to help equip our scientists and researchers with more tools and data to protect our Great Lakes for generations to come.”

Republicans and Democrats in both chambers support the legislation. Representatives David Joyce (OH-14), Debbie Dingell (MI-12), Bill Huizenga (MI-02), Elissa Slotkin (MI-08), Fred Upton (MI-03) and Haley Stevens (MI-12) also co-sponsored the legislation in the House. U.S. Senator Todd Young (R-IN) co-sponsored in the Senate.

Since coming to Congress, Kildee has fought to protect our Great Lakes, including securing $335 million in funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) and successfully stopping a proposed Canadian nuclear waste storage facility that would have been located less than one mile from Lake Huron in Kincardine, Ontario.