WLNS CBS 6 Lansing: Peters Bill to update Great Lakes environmental sensitivity index maps passes Senate

WASHINGTON, DC (WLNS) – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) today applauded Senate passage of his bipartisan legislation to update the Environmental Sensitivity Index (ESI) maps in the Great Lakes.

The legislation, which he introduced with U.S. Senator Todd Young (R-IN), would require the Great Lakes Region ESI maps to be updated for the first time in over two decades, joining maps for the East coast, West coast, and Gulf coast that have been updated more recently.

It would additionally require periodic Great Lakes mapping updates. The legislation marks 10 Peters-led standalone bills that have passed the Senate this Congress – more than any other Senator since January 2019, regardless of party.

“The Great Lakes are more than an economic engine and resource – they are simply in our DNA as Michiganders. They must be protected for future generations and that is why I pressed to pass my commonsense, bipartisan legislation,” said Senator Peters, a member of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.

New ESI 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.

Bipartisan companion legislation has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representatives Dan Kildee (MI-05), Bill Huizenga (MI-02), Debbie Dingell (MI-12) and David Joyce (OH-14).

ESI maps, which are coordinated through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), document the potential ecological impacts to natural and human-use resources from possible oil spills, natural disasters, and resource damage assessments.

The maps play a critical role in disaster planning and recovery, research and restoration efforts. NOAA announced at a field hearing in Traverse City in 2018 hosted by Peters 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.

It is important for ESI maps throughout the Great Lakes to be regularly updated to provide an accurate representation of vulnerable locations and areas that need protection in the event of a disaster. Updates would also improve the accessibility of the ESI maps by making them available in searchable formats.

Source: WLNS CBS 6 Lansing