Legislation to Help Keep Beaches, Lakes Cleaner

Niles Daily Star

Lakeshore property owners will have more freedom to properly maintain their beaches under legislation expected to be signed soon by the governor, said Sen. John Proos.

“Southwest Michigan is blessed with miles of beautiful sandy beaches that attract millions of visitors and are key to a tourist industry that supports thousands of families and local small businesses,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “Removing costly government interference – that only inhibits the maintenance of our beaches – is a victory for everyone. It will enhance private property rights and result in beaches that are cleaner and safer for families and tourists to enjoy.”

Low water levels in 1999 exposed many Great Lakes beaches, which were quickly overrun with invasive plants and other weeds. State policy at the time was to prevent landowners from grooming their beaches to remove plants or prevent them from growing without a permit.

Senate Bill 1052 would eliminate certain Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) restrictions about how beach maintenance can be done. Property owners with sandy beaches would no longer need to get a permit from the DEQ for beach grooming activities, although some activities may still be subject to federal regulation.

“Allowing landowners to maintain their beaches will help increase outdoor activities and protect a vibrant tourism industry,” Proos said. “I supported this common-sense reform because it also achieves a balance between recreation and conservation. Eliminating unnecessary restrictions on property owners will enable them to keep their beaches sandy and open for use while enlisting their aid in stopping invasive species from taking hold in Michigan.”

Under SB 1052, owners of sandy beaches would not need a DEQ permit to remove vegetation and debris on the section of their beaches between the normal high-water mark and the water’s edge. Construction projects and digging of channels or dredging below the ordinary high-water mark would still be subject to a state permit.

“This will not affect a beachgoer’s ability to walk along the beach between the high-water line and the water’s edge,” Proos said. “In fact, it will improve that freedom by allowing landowners to maintain and clean that area of the beach.”

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Proos Legislation Encourages Companies to Protect Environment on Own

By Mike Arney

WSJM – Radio

Legislation to cut regulations and provide incentives for businesses that volunteer to become certified “clean corporate citizens” through environmental management programs is headed to the state House. Senator John Proos sponsored the bills, which have now passed the Senate.

Proos says becoming a clean corporate citizen would require significant time and investment. That would include creating a pollution prevention program and using an approved environmental management standard. It would benefit local businesses and farms and encourage them to participate in things like the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program.

Federal Inaction Puts Great Lakes at Risk

A recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling and continued inaction by the Obama Administration to prevent Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes are endangering the lakes.

Asian carp currently are at the threshold of Lake Michigan.  If allowed to invade the Great Lakes, they will surely continue to our inland lakes and streams and their impact will be permanent and catastrophic.

Asian carp would cause billions of dollars in lost economic activity and wipe out thousands of jobs – with Southwest Michigan the first area affected. Unfortunately, the special interests of one community, joined by inaction by federal officials, are putting at risk the future of the Great Lakes and the livelihood of everyone in the region.

Great Lakes commercial, recreational and sport fishing is a $7 billion industry, and our recreational boating industry is worth $9 billion.

In addition to ravaging a vibrant fishing industry, Asian carp would decimate tourism and boating in Southwest Michigan, costing us jobs and endangering our way of life.

I sponsored a Senate Concurrent Resolution 18 last year. Adopted in September 2011, it urged decisive congressional action to prevent a disaster.

I once again implore the federal government to close the O’Brien Lock and Dam in the Chicago Waterway System until a long-term solution is identified and enacted. The risk of inaction is too great.

By the time federal bureaucrats finish a planned study in 2015 on what to do, it may already be too late.

When it comes to this invasive fish, we do not have the luxury of time.

Environmental Leaders Program Would Reward Good Stewards

From agriculture to tourism, our unique and bountiful Southwest Michigan environment provides us with so many opportunities.

That is why I recently introduced legislation in the Michigan Senate to reduce regulations and provide incentives for businesses that volunteer to become certified environmental leaders.

My measure is part of a four-bill package that would create the Environmental Leaders Program within the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. The bill is aimed at reducing cumbersome regulations on job providers who choose to go above and beyond current state requirements.

I sponsored this initiative to incentivize Michigan businesses to become more environmentally responsible and help the state more efficiently use its limited resources.

Under Senate Bills 939-942, becoming an environmental leader would be voluntary and would require significant time and investment. In turn, environmental leaders would earn extended length of permits, less frequent inspections, preference for state contract bidding and protection against civil fines.

The program would benefit local businesses and farms and encourage them to participate in environmental management programs, such as the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP).

It is a positive step for everyone when we can reduce job-killing red tape and make government more efficient. I am committed to this initiative to enhance environmental protection and thank businesses that are already going beyond the call of duty, because much of our Southwest Michigan economy depends on our great natural resources.

Prevent Asian Carp from Michigan Waters

October 29, 2010

Recently, the Department of Natural Resources and Environment introduced a five goal Asian Carp Management Plan in attempts to stop the carp from spreading and options to control an accidental or intentional intrusion of the invasive species.

It is in Michigan’s best interest to close Chicago’s locks in order to prevent the Asian carp from entering our waters. We cannot afford the cost of controlling and regulating the carp population when Michigan is still struggling for jobs.

The five goals included in the DNRE Asian Carp Management Plan include: prevention, detection, communication, assessment, and management. Strategic actions the DNRE plans to use upon invasion include the use of environmental DNA surveillance, inspection of fish distributors and hauling equipment, and effectively sharing information with media and the community.

St. Joseph River, between Berrien Springs Dam and St. Joseph would be considered high priority for environmental DNA surveillance in order to detect the invasive species.

Preventing the carp from entering is the least expensive option. Closing Chicago’s Sanitary and Ship Canal locks will ultimately save our tourism and fishing industries.

According to the DNRE, the Asian carp will take up to two years before entering Michigan waters and are likely to be permanent.

Residents can join the fight to protect the Great Lakes by signing an online petition that can be found on my Web site at http://www.gophouse.com.

Lawmakers Renew Calls for Action on the Asian Carp After Recent Find

WSJM

Andrew Green Reporting

June 24, 2010

Michigan lawmakers are expressing concern over this week’s discovery of an Asian carp just six miles from Lake Michigan. It was announced on Wednesday that a 20-pound bighead carp was found in Lake Calumet, near Chicago. That’s beyond the electronic barriers that were set up to keep the fish from getting too close to the Great Lakes, and State Representative John Proos says this just shows that state leaders were right when they called for more decisive action to prevent the carp from getting here.

Proos says that pressure needs to be increased on the federal government to order that the Chicago shipping locks be closed until a solution is found. Governor Jennifer Granholm, as well as Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox and Senator Debbie Stabenow, also had strong words about the situation on Thursday. Stabenow said that she wants the area where that Asian carp was found to be poisoned. She also repeated her call for a permanent separation of waterways linking the Mississippi River and the Great Lakes.

House Approves Legislation to Protect Great Lakes from Invasive Species, Water Diversion

Posted in June 8th, 2010
by AdminBSnook
River Country Journal

The Michigan House Tuesday (June 8th) approved legislation to protect Michigan’s greatest natural resources from all types of threats, state Rep. John Proos announced.

“The Legislature has a duty to protect the Great Lakes from threats – whether it’s invasive species or water diversion to other states,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “These resolutions set precedent for protection of the Great Lakes going forward, and it is important to set a tone of conservation and protection now, for today and our future generations.”

House Resolution 37 urges policy makers to address aquatic invasive species in the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, which is an agreement between the United States and Canada that has been in force for 40 years providing joint goals of coordinating efforts to clean up, restore and maintain improved water quality. The resolution calls for updating the agreement to include new issues that have emerged, such as aquatic invasive species that have fundamentally altered the landscape for managing Great Lakes water quality.

House Resolution 38 urges the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Council to scrutinize carefully the Waukesha, Wisconsin water diversion from the Great Lakes.

Waukesha, Wisconsin has stated its intention to apply for an 18.5 million gallon per day diversion of water from Lake Michigan to meet its current drinking water needs and future economic growth. The resolution concludes by urging the council to scrutinize carefully the proposed water diversion request.

The resolutions were unanimously approved by the House and now head to the governor for consideration.