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Kildee Legislation to Protect Great Lakes from Oil Spills and Natural Disasters Signed Into Law

January 4, 2021
Press Release
Bill Updates Decades-Old Great Lakes Environmental Sensitivity Index Maps

WASHINGTON—Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-05), Chief Deputy Whip of the House Democratic Caucus, announced today that bipartisan legislation to update the Environmental Sensitivity Index (ESI) maps in the Great Lakes was signed into law by President Donald Trump. 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 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.

This legislation is supported by Reps. Bill Huizenga (MI-02), Debbie Dingell (MI-12), David Joyce (OH-14), Haley Stevens (MI-11), Fred Upton (MI-06) and Elissa Slotkin (MI-08) and U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Todd Young (R-IN).

“Representing 118 miles of beautiful Lake Huron shoreline, I am proud to see this bipartisan bill to protect the Great Lakes signed into law,” said Congressman Kildee. “The Great Lakes generate billions of dollars in economic activity and provide drinking water for over 40 million people. We must protect our Great Lakes from harm, including being ready to respond to emergencies like oil spills or natural disasters.”

“The Great Lakes are vital to our nation – from providing drinking water to millions of people to being an economic engine for communities across Michigan,” said Senator Peters. “Efforts to protect the Great Lakes should be considered just as critical as projects to safeguard other major bodies of water and shorelines. I’m pleased that this bipartisan legislation is now law, because it will help provide scientists and researchers the resources needed to protect our Great Lakes.”

“I’m glad to see our bill cross the finish line to further preserve one of America’s most illustrious natural resources, the Great Lakes,” said Senator Young. “Now that our bill has been signed into law, we can update the Environmental Sensitivity Index maps, better respond to natural disasters, and continue to protect the treasured Great Lakes that are so important to the Hoosier way of life.”

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.