Michigan's U.S. Senators want an update from the Army Corps of Engineers on whether it plans to divert money away from Great Lakes projects, including the Soo Locks, dredging, and efforts to combat Asian carp.
Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters are worried about recent reports that President Trump is asking the Army Corps to identify funds that could be used to build a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico.
In a January 14 letter to R.D. James, the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works), Stabenow and Peters asked for "assurances that the Army Corps is not considering reallocating funding away from the Soo Locks, and other agency projects critical to the safety and wellbeing of Michigan and the entire Great Lakes."
"From an economic threat, closing the Soo Locks if there was a problem would have a serious effect on the economy of Michigan and ultimately the whole country," said Stabenow, who noted that 80 million tons of commercial goods pass through the Soo Locks every year.
"There haven't been any comprehensive improvements to the Soo Locks in nearly 50 years," Stabenow said. "So this needs to get moving."
"The FY 2019 Work Plan includes $32.38 million to begin the process for building a much-needed new lock and over $15 milllion to ensure the existing locks remain operational," Stabenow and Peters wrote in the January 14th letter. "We are on borrowed time and it is imperative that this funding not be reallocated or reduced."
Stabenow and Peters also said they opposed any effort to divert funding allocated to combat Asian carp or any attempts to redirect the $48 million allocated for dredging projects in the Great Lakes which they say are essential to Great Lakes navigation and public safety.