Breaking news from our friends working the Hill:
Tomorrow Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL) will offer an amendment to the Energy and Water Appropriations bill to fully fund the Asian carp barrier when the House Appropriations Committee considers the bill at 10 AM.
Those who love the Great Lakes and are fighting to restore them need no reminder of how important the Asian carp barrier is to the Great Lakes. For those who don’t, here’s the skinny: the non-native Asian carp are migrating up the Mississippi and into the Illinois River. They’re knocking on Lake Michigan’s door and a $4.5 billion fishery that could be decimated if the fish enter. The last line of defense—an electric barrier on the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal—is in desperate need of funding.
Rep. Kirk faces an up-hill battle to get his amendment passed.
Why? No earmarks were included in this bill for any member, so both Chairman Pete Visclosky (D-IN) and Ranking Member Dave Hobson (R-OH) will oppose Kirk’s efforts – Hobson said reluctantly so, according to sources. Visclosky has stated that member projects will be added later in the process. I imagine other members will oppose for similar reasons.
But the story is not so simple. Consider:
The barrier isn’t a traditional earmark benefiting only one congressional district and state. The barrier system benefits the entire Great Lakes region.
Members of the Healing Our Waters Coalition are making a dogged effort to call appropriators to get this vital amendment submitted–one that is critical to protecting the Great Lakes from Asian carp.
For those wonks who love details:
The Kirk Amendment says that of the $2 billion for Army Corps construction funds, $1.35 million shall be for the demonstration dispersal barrier (Barrier I) and $6.9 million shall be for the permanent barrier (Barrier II); and of the $126 million in operation and maintenance funds for the Great Lakes region, $500,000 shall be for each barrier (a total of $1 million).
We’ll keep you posted.