We need to protect our environment and natural resources because our nation’s public lands and waterways are irreplaceable. Nowhere does this hit closer to home than Lake Michigan and the Great Lakes basin. Millions of people live, work, play, or get their drinking water from these waters which also serve as an important economic engine for our region.
Yet, we know the Great Lakes face serious challenges including the threat from invasive species, ongoing development, and pollution. Congress has an important role to play in addressing these threats to ensure that economic, environmental and recreational benefits remain for future generations.
During my tenure in Congress, I have not waivered in my support of legislation that enhances protection for the Great Lakes, our nation’s public lands, parks and forests, and our air and water. As a Member of the Great Lakes Task Force, I have worked with my colleagues from the region on issues of bipartisan concern. This includes cosponsoring legislation such as the Great Lakes Ecosystem Protection Act, the Great Lakes Collaboration Implementation Act, and legislation reauthorizing the Great Lakes Legacy Act.
I also strongly support and will continue to fight for funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, a multi-year commitment from the Obama Administration that will help remove toxic substances from area waterways, combat invasive species, protect the public health from nonpoint Source Pollution and protect habitat and wildlife.
I will also continue to work to oppose efforts to increase irresponsible and environmentally damaging oil drilling in sensitive environmental areas and logging in our national forests. I am also opposed to efforts by House Republicans to undermine key environmental protection laws such as the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and Endangered Species Act which were all enacted on a bipartisan basis.
Our region’s and nation’s natural resources are not only environmental treasures but also economic generators. In the Milwaukee area, a number of water-related technology companies have chosen to set up shop because of proximity to Lake Michigan and the other Great Lakes. As former Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson—the founder of Earth Day—put it, “The economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the environment, not the other way around…All economic activity is dependent upon that environment and its underlying resource base of forests, water, air, soil, and minerals. When the environment is finally forced to file for bankruptcy because its resource base has been polluted, degraded, dissipated, and irretrievably compromised, the economy goes into bankruptcy with it.”
Great Lakes communities have long taken pride in protecting our region’s natural resources. As a Member of Congress, I will continue to work to ensure that the federal government does its part.