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Dingell, McClain Introduce Bipartisan Great Lakes Mapping Act

Representatives Debbie Dingell (MI-06) and Lisa McClain (MI-09) today introduced the bipartisan Great Lakes Mapping Act, legislation that would provide a better understanding of the unseen, unexplored lakebeds of America’s Great Lakes, and further our knowledge of their environmental, social, and economic impact.
The Great Lakes Region provides over $6 trillion to America’s GDP, supports 51 million jobs, and is a critical shipping lifeline for much of the country with more than 200 million tons of cargo shipped through the Great Lakes. Despite the far-reaching economic, social, and environmental significance of the Great Lakes, we lack a thorough understanding of their underwater environment.
“In Michigan, the Great Lakes are a way of life, and their impact is felt across our country and beyond. Protecting these waters is personal to me and to so many who call the Heartland home,” Dingell said. “Comprehensively exploring and mapping the Great Lakes will strengthen our understanding of their underwater environment so that we can better protect them and the many species they contain and continue to foster the economic prosperity they have supported for generations.”
“Our Great Lakes generate a GDP of $6 trillion and support over 51 million jobs, yet we have barely scratched the surface of understanding the depths of the lakes,” said McClain. “Investing in comprehensive Great Lakes exploration will offer Michigan and the U.S. an enhanced look at what these bodies of water offer and bring forth a new chapter of success and prosperity to the Great Lakes economy and beyond.”
The Great Lakes have never been fully explored. Thousands of shipwrecks lay hidden in the depths. Ancient civilizations have left their cultural imprint hundreds of feet below the surface. Marine life is crucial for Great Lakes fisheries; however, their habitats are barely understood.
This bill would direct the Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to conduct high-resolution bathymetric mapping of the lakebeds of the Great Lakes and authorize $200 million in appropriations. Throughout this process, NOAA would work with consulting bodies and regional coastal observing systems, such as the Great Lakes Observing System to map the lakebeds and then make all relevant data available to the public. 
View a summary of the bill here. View the full bill text here.
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