(WWTI) — A new law focused on studying oil spills on local water bodies has been introduced to Congress.
On January 25, the St. Lawrence River and Great Lakes Waterways Protection Act was introduced to Congress by Representatives Elise Stefanik, R-NY, and Joe Morelle, D-NY.
According to the Congressmembers, if passed, this legislation would ensure that the U.S. Coast Guard includes studying the impacts of oil spills in the two waterways, and best practices for responding to any freshwater spills.
Previously, the Frank LoBiondo Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2018 included a provision that created the USCG Great Lakes National Center of Expertise for Oil Spill Preparedness and Response.
The purpose of this Center is to examine the impacts of oil spills in freshwater environments. However, the St. Lawrence River was not included in the scope of the CoE’s definition of “Great Lakes.”
Congresswoman Stefanik said that including the St. Lawrence River in this scope would better safeguard the local waterway.
The St. Lawrence River is a keystone of the North Country and serves as the integral access point for shipping to enter the Great Lakes,” Stefanik said in a press release. “This bill is a critical step forward to ensure the continued protection of the St. Lawrence as part of the Coast Guard’s important work.”
Town of Alexandria Supervisor Brent Sweet also supported the legislation as he reflected on the oil spill that took place on the St. Lawrence River in 1976.
“Since 1976, our community and local first responders have put endless hours into training and developing effective oil spill response protocol,” Sweet noted. “Our local Coast Guard are professional and effective at patrolling and safeguarding our St Lawrence River assets. This amendment will facilitate them in continuing their dedication to the St Lawrence River and local communities.”
St. Lawrence County District 3 Legislator also spoke to the legislation. His statement is included below.
“Speaking for the fifty mile stretch of the St. Lawrence River shoreline that I represent on the St. Lawrence County Board of Legislators, I would certainly advocate for and support the inclusion of all waterways and rivers that empty into the greater Great Lakes system via the St. Lawrence River,” Lightfoot said. “An all-encompassing scope would enhance the efforts to examine the impacts of current and potential issues as well as identifying the best way of dealing with them.”
The full St. Lawrence River and Great Lakes Waterways Protection Act can be read online.