The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill Wednesday that could close the Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam on the Mississippi River in Minneapolis in an attempt to prevent invasive Asian carp from spreading further north.
The Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2013 passed the House by a vote of 417-3, with the support of all members of the Minnesota delegation except Democrat Rep. Collin Peterson. It had previously passed the Senate.
Under the legislation, the government will assess the environmental and economic impact of closing the Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam, as well as submit a report to Congress documenting the annual tonnage that's been shipped through the dam in the last five years. If the annual average tonnage was less than 1.5 million tons, the dam will be closed within a year.
Eighth District Rep. Rick Nolan told MPR News before the bill passed that closing the Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam was necessary to stop the spread of Asian carp.
"We have to do something to stop it," Nolan said. "There's very, very little commercial traffic beyond the lock and dam at St. Anthony, so it's our last, best chance to protect all the lakes and the waterways going north of there."
In a statement, Rep. Keith Ellison, who represents the area where the dam is located, said the bill will protect the state's recreational economy.
"Minnesota faces many more threats from invasive species and I hope this is the first of many bipartisan solutions that will preserve our natural resources," Ellison said.
Rep. Peterson of Minnesota's 7th District said he voted against the bill because House Republicans didn't include funding for a flood mitigation project in Roseau, Minn.
"We authorized for what the Corps said it was going to cost," Peterson said. "They ended up screwing up, they forgot some stuff, so now we have half the project built and we can't finish it unless we can authorize a higher amount."
Funding for the Roseau project is included in the Senate version of the bill. Peterson is hopeful that it will be included in the conference committee version.