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Michigan reps introduce legislation to fight algae blooms

Mark Brush
Michigan Radio

Two U.S. representatives from Michigan announced at a farm near Monroe they plan to introduce legislation that would reduce pollution that causes harmful algae blooms in the Great Lakes.

Republican U.S. Rep. Candice Miller of Shelby Township and Tim Walberg of Tipton will sponsor a bill, the Great Lakes Assurance Program Verification Act, that would reward farmers for voluntarily taking conservation measures. 

Some examples include teaching and encouraging farmers to use the correct amount of fertilizer and pesticides. Those measures would reduce the amount of soil erosion and nutrient run-off. 

Miller says it's everyone's responsible to take care of the Great Lakes, but she doesn't like government regulation. 

"They may be well-intentioned, but often with federal regulations – they are incredibly costly, and they don't have the anticipated impact," Miller said. 

The bill is inspired by a similar initiative that already exists in the state called the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program

If the bill were to pass, states would be able to apply for grants from the USDA’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program to administer programs like MAEAP. Both representatives say it wouldn't require additional federal funding. 

"Let's share the wealth of ideas that have worked in Michigan with other states and do it in a way that's voluntary," Walberg said. 

Last August, a harmful algae bloom in Lake Erie caused Toledo to shut down its water supply. It occurred  because excess nutrients, mostly phosphorus, ran off into Lake Erie from farms and sewage treatment plants.

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