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Gary C. Peters

09/16/2022 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 09/16/2022 15:31

Bipartisan Bill Reauthorizing U.S. Coast Guard Advances with Provisions Peters Led to Protect Great Lakes for Future Generations

WASHINGTON, DC -Bipartisan legislation to reauthorize funding for the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) - including provisions led by U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) to protect the Great Lakes - advanced in the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, on which Peters serves. Peters additionally serves as the Chairman of the Commerce Subcommittee on Surface Transportation, Maritime, Freight, and Ports. The legislation now moves to the full Senate for consideration.

"This bipartisan bill will help ensure the Coast Guard has the support and resources they need to effectively carry out their mission," said Senator Peters, a member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, Senate Armed Services Committee, and Senate Great Lakes Task Force. "I'm also proud the bill includes provisions I led to strengthen our preparedness against oil spills in freshwater bodies, particularly the Great Lakes, and secures additional funding for the Great Lakes Center of Expertise I enacted to support USCG's work to protect the Great Lakes in the event of a spill, which we know would be catastrophic for our environment and economy. I look forward to continue working with my colleagues in a bipartisan manner to pass this legislation into law."

The Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2022 includes the following provisions Peters co-led:

  • SECURE FUNDING FOR U.S. COAST GUARD GREAT LAKES CENTER OF EXPERTISE: The bill would authorize additional funding for the operation of the U.S. Coast Guard Great Lakes Center of Expertise for Oil Spill Preparedness and Response. In 2018, Peters authored a provision that was signed into lawto establish the Great Lakes Center of Expertise to examine the impacts of oil spills in freshwater environments and help develop effective responses. Peters later secured $4.5 millionfor the Center of Expertise, and led efforts to ensure it was headquartered in Michigan.Last month, Peters helped cut the ribbonat the Center of Expertise at Lake Superior State University's Center for Freshwater Research and Education.
  • AUTHORIZE $350 MILLION FOR NEW GREAT LAKES ICEBREAKER: The bill provides an authorization of $350 million in funding to acquire an additional Great Lakes icebreaker, at least as capable as the USCG Cutter Mackinaw. The bill also includes language from the Great Lakes Winter Commerce Act - which Peters is a cosponsor of - that would update USCG's outdated Great Lakes Icebreaking Mission and increase the icebreaking capacity of the Great Lakes fleet.
  • IMPROVE USCG DATA ON OIL SPILL MODELING: The bill would incorporate a recommendation from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to ensure the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) acquires all data relevant to advanced predictive modeling for spills of diluted bitumen being transported by pipelines. NOAA has begun incorporating new data on this practice; however, they are not required by law to do so. Therefore, this commonsense provision authored by Peters would require USCG to acquire this data to improve oil spill preparedness moving forward.
  • ADDRESS BACKLOG OF USCG INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS: The bill would begin to address the current backlog of USCG infrastructure projects in the Great Lakes by requiring an annual report from USCG on shoreside infrastructure needs by region.

Peters has long championed efforts in Congress to strengthen the Great Lakes. In 2019, Peters secured a bipartisan provisionthat was signed into law to provide the first increase in Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) funding since the program was established a decade ago. To build on that progress, Peters helped enact the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which included $1 billion for the GLRI - a historic investment and largest funding ever for the program. Additionally, Peters' bipartisan bill to update the Environmental Sensitivity Maps for the Great Lakes was signed into law last year. These new maps will provide more accurate assessments of coastal resources that are at risk of severe damage or a natural disaster, including endangered and threatened species, sensitive shoreline habitats, and widely used community resources such as beaches, parks, and boat ramps.

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