Archive for the ‘Asian carp’ Category

Army Corps: Cracking open the door for Asian carp

November 30, 2010

Last week I attended the “Michigan Asian Carp Prevention Workshop” put on by the state’s Office of the Great Lakes. It was a really solid event with excellent presentations and new information.

The workshop highlighted the significant recent progress on Asian carp, including the:

Unfortunately, even as some progress is being made, the Army Corps of Engineers are opening the door for Asian carp.The Corps seems determined to resist serious consideration of hydrological separation in the Chicago waterway system.

The latest obstacle to shutting the door on Asian carp is the way the Corps is setting up its feasibility study for preventing the movement of Asian carp and other invasive species between the Mississippi River basin and the Great Lakes. Congress passed a law ordering the Corps to conduct that study (called GLMRIS – the Great Lakes Mississippi River – Study). The law (the Water Resources Development Act of 2007, Pub. L. 110-114, §3061(d))  says,

(d) FEASIBILITY STUDY.-The Secretary, in consultation with appropriate Federal, State, local, and nongovernmental entities, shall conduct, at Federal expense, a feasibility study of the range of options and technologies available to prevent the spread of aquatic nuisance species between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Basins through the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal and other aquatic pathways.(emphasis added)

But the study that Congress ordered is not the study the Corps wants to conduct. In the Great Lakes Mississippi River study plan and in public presentations, the Corps says it will assess the feasibility of measures “that could be applied to prevent or reduce the risk of ANS transfer between Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins.” But “reducing the risk” can be pretty minimal – like doing more electrofishing. It certainly isn’t prevention, and it certainly isn’t what Congress ordered.

When I asked the Corps staff at the workshop why they were not following Congress’s explicit orders (and the law) on the study, the staff said that no mechanism can be 100 percent effective in preventing introductions, so they wanted to “lower expectations.” That’s why they added “or reduce the risk” to the purpose of the study.

That’s a pretty significant lowering of expectations – almost to zero. I asked why they didn’t at least say the study purpose was “prevent to the maximum extent possible.” The Corps said they hadn’t thought of that!

Here’s what’s at stake:

Congress has ordered the Corps to evaluate the feasibility of measures that will actually prevent the introduction of Asian carp into the Great Lakes. That assessment would include economic and social factors as well as ecological ones, and it could be that the Corps concludes that some prevention measures are not feasible, or that some measures are more feasible than others.

But the Corps isn’t even willing to live by those rules. Instead, the Corps wants to assess the feasibility of measures that do NOT prevent the introduction of Asian carp… but only reduce the risk of introduction. Virtually any measure can be said to reduce the risk in some way. So the Corps might be assessing the economic and social costs of doing more electrofishing, or more commercial fishing, or improving the operations of the electric fences – all well and good, but none designed to prevent the introduction of Asian carp into the lakes.

And the Corps plans to unfairly compare “risk reducing” measures and their costs to the costs of measures that really prevent the introduction of carp – like hydrological separation. Which ones do you think the Corps will conclude are more feasible? I can answer that question now; we don’t have to spend millions of dollars and wait 5 years for that bad news.

The Corps should obey the law. And we all should hold them to it. Let’s ask the new Asian carp director, John Goss to do just that. Email him at John_R_Goss@ceq.eop.gov.

News on invasives from the back and front doors

November 3, 2010

This week brings two new reports on invasive species. The first is the October 25 edition of the New Yorker Magazine, where Reporter At Large Ian Frazier travels up the Mississippi, the Illinois, and the DesPlaines  Rivers and then through the Chicago canals – the back door of the Great Lakes – to see firsthand what’s happening with Asian carp. You can read an abstract of his story, but really doesn’t come close to doing justice to his excellent reporting.

From descriptions of the fish to the fisherman, from following the trail of slime the carp leaves to the people who would like to sell them for food, from the Redneck Fishing Tournament to the intricacies of the Chicago canal system, Frazier really captures the people, the waterways, and the fish in impressive fashion. His interview with Notre Dame researcher David Lodge, whose eDNA monitoring sounded the alarm on the carp’s proximity to Lake Michigan almost a year ago, is can’t-miss reading. A quick excerpt here:

“I know you can’t not laugh when you see the silver carp jumping all over the place, but it’s really not funny. It’s a tragic thing, and people are wrong to trivialize it. We should focus on these fish’s potential environmental and economic impact. In the Great Lakes – just as we’re seeing now in South Louisiana – the environment is the economy. Look at how the degrading of Lake Erie in the sixties and seventies contributed to the decline of Detroit and Cleveland and Buffalo. To people who say this is a question of jobs versus the environment, I say it’s not either-or.”

Then there’s a fascinating story addressing the front door of invasive species, the St. Lawrence Seaway. The Northwest Indiana Times reports consternation by the shipping industry that a New York law may force them to stop discharging invasive species-laden ballast water into the Great Lakes.  Steven Fisher, executive director of the American Great Lakes Ports Association, told a business forum in Indiana that ocean-going vessels would stop coming to Burns Harbor because New York prohibits vessels from traveling through New York waters – which they must do to traverse the Seaway — unless they can meet protective discharge standards for their ballast water. This threat comes soon after the Canadian government registered a protest about the same law because of its potential impacts on Canadian ports.

As I posted four months ago, the New York law is designed to do exactly what the shippers and Canada complain of: stop ballast water discharges of invasives ANYWHERE in the Great Lakes. New York understands that what happens in Lake Superior or Lake Michigan or Lake Huron doesn’t stay there; it moves through the system into New York waters. That’s why New York expanded its law to cover any ship travelling through its waters and not just any ship discharging in its ports.

What’s sparked all this concern? The shipping industry finally realizes that the New York law is real, it’s on the books, and the courts have upheld it. So now the shippers are putting on a full court press to reverse the law by other means.

These kind of head-in-the-sand reactions reinforce the image of the shipping industry as the major source of damage to the Great Lakes. If they keep this up, they’ll also be known as job killers, as invasive species are harming the tourism and recreation industries that are the economic anchor to many communities in the region. This view is well articulated by Jennifer Caddick, director of Save the River, in a letter she wrote to New York State Senator Darrel J. Aubertine about his opposition to the New York law.

Here’s the irony: New York hasn’t even begun to enforce this law. The standards are supposed to go into effect in 2012, but New York has not found a way to make sure that ships passing through its waters comply with the law. The Coast Guard has said it won’t enforce the law on New York’s behalf, and the Seaway Authority is not likely to step up because they oppose the law.  And New York does not have the authority to stop ships in the Seaway and board them, so the state can’t determine whether ships have the required treatment technology.

Between the shipping industry’s full court press and New York’s enforcement quandary, we still have a lot of work to do to close the Great Lakes’ front door to invasive species.

Asian Carp, Oil Spill and Great Lakes Restoration Highlights

September 9, 2010

I’m back after an August hiatus, and there’s lots happening. Here are a few items:

Asian carp: the breaking news is that the Obama Administration has created a new position, Asian carp director, in the Council of Environmental Quality, and filled it with none other than our own John Goss, the former executive director of the Indiana Wildlife Federation. I’m very excited about this. I’ve known John for years and he’s passionate about the Great Lakes and very good at getting things done, a combination we really need in that job. He’s got his work cut out for him because the position doesn’t come with new legal authority, just the power to persuade and cajole and coordinate. But that’s what John does best, so I have high hopes. And we look forward to working with him. Check our NWF’s news release on the Asian Carp Tsar announcement.

On the flip side, the Administration (via the Corps) is actively fighting a lawsuit brought by the states to shut the canals. The hearing is going on this week; stay tuned for the outcome.

Kalamazoo River oil spill: The good news is that the leak was stopped within days, the oil seems to be contained and it never reached Lake Michigan. The bad news is that the spill occurred in an area that was flooded due to heavy rain events the days prior. At the spill site, 5 acres of wetlands were heavily saturated in tar oil; around 30 miles of river banks were coated with oil; and surrounding wildlife has been significantly impacted and will continue to be impacted until all oil is completely removed from the river banks.  Issues continue to arise around worker safety and residential rights. The spill happened in Congressman Mark Shauer’s district, and the committee he sits on (House Transportation and Infrastructure) is holding a hearing on it in Washington next week, September 15. NWF’s response coordinator, Beth Wallace, and I have been invited to testify before on the committee. More on that soon.

Great Lakes restoration: The first grants are out! EPA made the grant announcements this week in Green Bay and Toledo. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson personally made the announcements, four grants in Ohio totaling $1.9 million, and seven in Wisconsin at $5.2 million. These are the first wave of what’s expected in the next few weeks to be 270 projects and $160 million in grants from EPA.

Not to be outdone, the Healing Our Waters –Great Lakes Coalition announced our own Great Lakes restoration grants, 13 of them totaling $190,000. These grants are seed money to enable small organizations to go after the larger government grants.

There’s more, of course, but this post is long enough. Next week, I’ll be in Washington doing double duty: visiting Congressional offices as part of a HOW fly-in, and tracking the Kalamazoo River Oil spill hearings. I’ll post when I have more news.

Bad News, Doubled, on Asian Carp

June 24, 2010

I don’t know which is worse: the discovery of a live Asian carp beyond the electric fence that is supposed to stop them, or the dismissive and obstructionist reaction to that discovery from the Army Corps of Engineers. That’s the negative impression I got after listening to an emergency briefing held yesterday afternoon by the agencies responsible for protecting the Great Lakes from the monster carp: the Corps, the Coast Guard, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. EPA, and the Illinois DNR.

Of course it’s bad news that a 20-pound, 34-inch bighead carp was captured in Lake Calumet, 6 miles from Lake Michigan and beyond the electric fence and the O’Brien Lock. There is no remaining physical barrier between where the fish was found and the Great Lakes. And because the fish was found in larger body of water (Lake Calumet) so close to Lake Michigan, chemical treatment may be unwise or impossible. That leaves increased electrofishing and netting to try to find more invasive carp and suppress whatever populations are present.

The good news is that most of the agencies on the call said that they plan to implement the electrofishing and netting measures and expressed a new urgency in making sure they were doing all in their power to stop the Asian carp from advancing. The US Fish and Wildlife Service, the US EPA, the Illinois DNR…. they all announced new measures to combat the carp, and each of them pledged to ramp up their efforts.  But not the Corps.

The Corps spokesperson, Mike White, made it sound as if the Corps would just like to wash its hands of the whole problem. On the call and in the press release, he said the Corps’ primary responsibility was:

“to continue to operate the locks and dams in the Chicago Area Waterway System for Congressionally authorized purposes of navigation, water diversion, and flood control. We will continue to support fish suppression activities by modifying existing structures such as locks as requested by other agencies to support this common goal…”

Protect the Great Lakes? Forget about it. Apparently the Corps does not think that protecting the Great Lakes is part of its mission.

When asked if the Corps would post on its website the results, including the date and location, of the additional DNA sampling we assumed the Corps would be conducting, Mr. White said the Corps is in discussions with the institutions who have done sampling in the past (Notre Dame) about whether Corps will continue doing DNA sampling at all. So, will the DNA sampling resume? The Corps doesn’t know, but it certainly hopes those discussions come to resolution sometime soon. Well, that’s a relief, right?

Later, in a call with the press, Mr. White was asked if the discovery of a live carp beyond the electric fence, 6 miles from Lake Michigan, made a response to the problem more urgent. His response was that the Corps would consider its statutory authorities and determine a course of action. In other words, the Corps is going to think about it and get back to us.

Will the Corps act forcefully and with urgency? Forget about it – not to protect the Great Lakes.

What’s terrifying is that the Corps is the agency that is supposed to decide on whether a permanent separation of the Great Lakes from the Mississippi River is feasible. Given the performance we saw yesterday, why bother? Their answer is predetermined (since Great Lakes protection apparently isn’t part of the Corps’s mission), and given the low urgency that agency is assigning to this issue, it could be decades before it finishes the study, anyway.

We’re supporting a bill to force the Corps to do a real feasibility study on hydrological separation, and to do it rapidly. Thanks to the leadership of the Great Lakes senators, particularly Senators Durbin, Stabenow, Levin and Voinovich, this bill might move, and move quickly. It will be a big help with the Corps’ mission.

But what about the Corps’ culture? I think we need to change the agency’s incentives. How about this: if Asian carp colonize the Great Lakes, then the costs to the ecosystem and the economies that depend on it get deducted from the Corps’ annual budget. Or even better: deduct those costs from the paychecks of their staff.

That might light the fire under them the Great Lakes need.

Real progress on carp!

May 25, 2010

It’s nice to be able to report good news on this topic, and this news is big.

Remember how many times I’ve emphasized that we must implement a permanent solution to stopping the Asian carp invasion?  Well, the only way to guarantee that carp would not move through the canals into Lake Michigan is to create a physical barrier between the Mississippi River system and the Great Lakes – hydrological separation. And in order to create that physical barrier the Army Corps of Engineers must first complete a feasibility study. But the law directing them to do the study was vague, and by all reports the Corps is not intending to take a hard look at hydrological separation.

Today the Great Lakes Congressional delegation took a big step toward hydrological separation. Led by senators from Michigan, Ohio and Illinois — yes, Illinois, too — the Great Lakes Congressional Task Force sent a letter to their Senate colleagues calling for legislation to direct the Corps to do a study of hydrological separation. Now, this is a study, not an order for action, but it’s an essential step and it’s the right step. Illinois Senator Durbin has really stepped up here, joining Michigan’s Senators Levin and Stabenow and Ohio’s Senator Voinovich in leading this Great Lakes protection effort. You can read the environmental community’s positive reaction to the letter.

Senators Durbin, Levin, Stabenow, and Voinoich, and the other 9 Senators who also signed the letter, recognize that hyrdological separation is not only essential for saving the Great Lakes ecosystem, but if done right can be of great benefit to improving Chicago’s transportation system, lowering transportation costs for businesses in Chicago and throughout the region, better cleaning Chicago’s wastewater, and bringing federal investment and jobs into the city. In other words, hydrological separation can be a win for the Great Lakes, the city of Chicago, and the entire region.

Congress should act quickly on the recommendations in the letter. Of course, the Corps doesn’t have to wait for Congress to authorize a new study. It should take the hint from these Senators and get started on a hydro sep study right away.

I hope this regional unity on this study is the beginning of a trend. The Great Lakes community is an incredible political force when we’re unified; just look at our successes the past two years on Great Lakes restoration funding and the Great Lakes Water Resources Compact. Now facing one of the most serious threats to the lakes in decades, we need that unity more than ever. Our Great Lakes senators are moving us in that direction, and just in time.

Is this the Asian carp action plan we’ve been waiting for?

May 13, 2010

Last week, the federal and state and federal agencies constituting the Asian carp task force released what looked like an action plan to attack Asian carp.

The agencies’ plan is to take lethal measures to kill Asian carp wherever eDNA testing indicates those carp are present – most recently, near the O’Brien Lock and Dam and in the North Shore Channel. They will use rotenone to poison the fish in a two-mile stretch near the O’Brien section, and they will use electroshocking and netting to kill the fish in a narrow section of the North Shore Channel. In both locations, they will close the locks for several days to increase the efficiency of the response actions.

Attacking the Asian carp wherever the evidence says they are present sounds like progress to me. It sounds like the kind of action plan we asked for three months ago.

It is also a positive sign that the agencies are acknowledging by their actions that DNA evidence is a good indicator of where carp are. The agencies are using the DNA hits to determine where to attack the carp.

But while these specific measures are good ones, it is now unclear whether these actions actually part of a comprehensive plan.

Unfortunately, the agencies’ press release (pdf) makes what they are proposing sound like more monitoring and not like a new response plan. And after a conversation with agency staff, it’s clear to me that their plan is being spun as monitoring: the agencies are planning on poisoning fish to see if Asian carp are present, not killing fish because the evidence already indicates that Asian carp are present.

And that difference is important; it will make a real difference on the ground. If agencies’ activities are just monitoring, then there is no way of knowing whether new evidence of Asian carp will trigger a killing response or some form of monitoring that isn’t lethal to carp.

So if this is the agencies’ new action plan, they should tell us. And if this is not their action plan, then they should come up with one fast. It’s been over six months and the Asian carp continue to move faster than the government.

Supreme Court decision on Asian carp: the ball is in our court now

May 4, 2010

Pardon the length of this post, but I haven’t blogged in awhile, and this one is a bit complicated. Prominent in the news last week was the Supreme Court’s dismissal of Michigan’s petition to end the Chicago diversion and restore the natural divide between the Mississippi River system and Lake Michigan. After earlier refusing to hear two emergency motions to order short-term actions to stop the carp, the Court refused to reopen its consent decree that governs the Chicago diversion — which means the Court has declined to participate in any way on the Asian carp issue. That’s certainly disappointing, but at least in my mind, it does not have to be devastating.

Here’s why.

The only way to make sure Asian carp don’t enter Lake Michigan is to create a permanent barrier in the Chicago waterway system that stops live organisms from traveling through the canals (otherwise known as “ecological separation”). And the only entity that can build that barrier is the Army Corps of Engineers. To build such a barrier, the Corps would need to do studies on where and how the barrier could be built so as to maximize ecological protection while simultaneously creating economic growth (or at least minimizing economic harm). And then Congress would need to authorize the Corps to do the work and provide significant funding for construction.

Now, all this can happen without intervention by the Supreme Court. The Corps can do its study in a timely way (say, in 12-18 months), Congress can adopt the recommendations and fund them, and the Corps can then undertake construction. The problem is that the Corps is dragging its feet on the study and our Congressional delegation is divided as to what it would like the Corps to do. We heard last week that the Corps thinks it cannot finish its study by the end of 2012. And Congress isn’t likely to provide clear direction because there have been divisions between the Illinois delegation and most of the other Great Lakes states over the issue of ecological separation; without a unified front from the Great Lakes, Congress is unlikely to provide billions of dollars to fix a problem primarily associated with the Great Lakes.

Until the Supreme Court decision last week there were two strategies to getting the Corps to act quickly to complete the right kind of study and then for Congress to fund it.

The first strategy was (and is) to build consensus: to work with members of Congress, the states, the cities, the business community, scientists, and environmental organizations to find a method to do ecological separation that closes this canal system to invasive species while improving transportation and the Chicago and regional economies. This strategy brings people together to find a win-win outcome; it builds a consensus that the Corps would have every reason to adopt. We are already seeing signs that such a consensus is possible: the adoption of resolutions endorsing ecological separation by the Great Lakes Commission and its chair, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, was an excellent development. But that strategy takes time, and the Corps so far has been resistant to changing the slow, ineffective path on which it currently treads.

The second strategy was the opposite of consensus – the litigation option. Over the opposition of Illinois and some Chicago stakeholders, the Court could just order the Corps to do a study to determine the best ecological separation option and then implement it. Such an order would have been helpful in the following respects: it could have made sure the Corps did the right study (on how, and not whether, to do ecological separation); it could have forced the Corps to do the study quickly; and it could have established a special master to push the Corps to implement the study. But even under the best case scenario, the Court’s order could not have forced the government to stop the carp. The Court could not order Congress to provide funding, and without funding, there’s no construction for ecological separation. So even if we had the best decision from the Court, we’d need major action from Congress to protect the Great Lakes.

And that’s where the lawsuit created a bit of a paradox. A successful lawsuit could move the Corps along much more quickly…. but it also made action by Congress more unlikely. The lawsuit deepened and exacerbated the conflict between Illinois and other states, particularly Michigan, and their Congressional delegations. That conflict has made it extremely difficult for Congress as a whole to act. So while the lawsuit would have been really helpful in getting the Corps to do a good study quickly, it could have made doing the construction needed for ecological separation more difficult.

The dismissal of the lawsuit is a mixed bag. On the one hand, no lawsuit means a chance for the first strategy to work: to find widespread agreement around a win-win scenario for ecological separation. That agreement can be a force for funding and construction of ecological separation in ways that a Court order could not. On the other hand, it means that there’s no clear way to hold the Corps accountable – to conduct the right kind of study, and to conduct it quickly. It means that the first strategy becomes the only strategy. If we can’t build consensus and build it quickly, then the Corps will continue plodding along, often in the wrong direction, and the Great Lakes will be in real trouble.

That means the ball’s in our court now: we in the region, and not the Supreme Court, will decide the fate of the lakes. We’ve got some work to do.

Big disappointment from Obama administration

January 7, 2010

Big (disappointing) news.  The Obama administration weighed in on the wrong side of the Asian carp issue.

See our press release:

Alliance for the Great Lakes – Great Lakes United – Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition – National Wildlife Federation – Natural Resources Defense Council – Sierra Club

Administration Misses Opportunity to Protect Great Lakes from Asian Carp Threat

ANN ARBOR, MICH. (January 6)—The Obama Administration yesterday opposed taking emergency measures to protect the Great Lakes from the threat of Asian carp— including the temporary closure of two Chicago locks —siding with defendants in a court case that will be taken up by the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday.

The administration’s action is in response to a lawsuit brought in December by Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox—and since supported by the attorneys general in Indiana, Minnesota, New York, Ohio and Wisconsin and the Canadian province of Ontario. The lawsuit calls for measures to separate Lake Michigan from Asian-carp infested rivers and canals, including an emergency and temporary closure of two Chicago navigational locks that are the last barrier preventing the invasive fish from entering Lake Michigan and the other Great Lakes. The emergency measures would buy time to develop a permanent solution to the problem.

DNA evidence taken by University of Notre Dame researchers suggest that the invasive Asian carp – specifically the silver and bighead carp species – have breached an electric fence in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal and are within 6 miles of Lake Michigan.

Bighead and silver carp are large filter-feeders that out-compete native fish for food and habitat. Individuals can weigh up to 110 pounds for bighead carp and 60 pounds for silver carp. Boaters have been injured by silver carp because the fish is easily startled and hurls itself out of the water and into or over boats in response to boat motors.

Conservation groups criticized the Obama Administration’s actions:

“By aiming for the status quo, these filings miss the real target,” said Joel Brammeier, president and CEO of the Alliance for the Great Lakes. “Five states have spoken loudly and clearly that the connection between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi has already become a liability. Separating these systems is the only pathway to protection.”

“The Obama Administration has miscalculated the threat Asian carp pose to the Great Lakes,” said Andy Buchsbaum, regional executive director of the National Wildlife Federation’s Great Lakes Regional Center. “Without immediate action, an invasion of Asian carp will unravel many of the President’s Great Lakes initiatives. Regardless of what happens in the Supreme Court, the Obama administration needs to do the right thing.”

“The Asian carp pose an immediate, very significant threat to the entire Great Lakes region, and we have a limited window of time in which to act to prevent their entry into the Lakes,” said Emily Green, director of the Sierra Club’s Great Lakes Program. “We are counting on the Obama Administration to take the lead in addressing this threat and to take all actions necessary to prevent the carp from entering the Great Lakes, including an emergency closure of the locks. The stakes are too high for anything less.”

“Illinois and the federal government are walking away from a huge opportunity to fix real problems in the region, and instead favor the easier embrace of the status quo,” said Henry Henderson, director of the Midwest program for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).  “Asian carp are now knocking on the door of the Great Lakes precisely because the state and federal agencies in charge have responded slowly and ineffectively. They cannot now argue that they have this problem under control when they are the ones who allowed this emergency to develop in the first place. Whether they like it or not, the State of Illinois and Army Corps of Engineers are on the hook with responsibility to protect the Great Lakes.”

“DNA says that least a few carp have breached our only line of defense,” said Jennifer Nalbone, director of invasive species and navigation for Great Lakes United. “If DNA evidence is good enough to put criminals in jail, DNA evidence should be good enough to pull out all the stops to protect the Great Lakes and close those locks.”

“The Obama Administration has made Great Lakes restoration a top priority, which is why we are disappointed that it has chosen not to pursue closing the locks to protect the Lakes from the Asian carp,” said Jeff Skelding, campaign director for the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. “Failure to confront the threat of the Asian carp threatens to undermine the progress the nation is making to restore the Great Lakes and revive the economy.”

For Immediate Release:
January 6, 2010

Contact:
Joel Brammeier, Alliance for the Great Lakes, 773-590-6494
Andy Buchsbaum, National Wildlife Federation, 734-887-7100
Emily Green, Sierra Club Great Lakes Program, 608-695-4994
Josh Mogerman, Natural Resources Defense Council, 312-651-7909
Jennifer Nalbone, Great Lakes United, 716-213-0408
Jeff Skelding, Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition, 202-797-6893

The New York Times Weighs In

December 29, 2009

Today’s editorial in the Times recognizes how devastating an Asian carp invasion would be to the Great Lakes, and it recommends both emergency closure of the navigational locks in the Chicago canal system and a permanent separation between Lake Michigan and the Mississippi River basin. Support for those common sense measures is building.

I hope the Army Corps of Engineers is listening; there’s no need to wait for a Supreme Court order to do the right thing.

Asian Carp Won’t Wait

December 28, 2009

First, for a good take on Michigan’s lawsuit against Illinois over the invasive Asian carp, check out yesterday’s Washington Post article.

And thanks to NWF’s senior attorney Neil Kagan, we’ve got some more info on the legal processes and timelines for the carp lawsuit:

  • Ohio filed a motion on December 23 in support of Michigan’s request to modify the Supreme Court consent decree that governs the Chicago diversion in order to stop Asian carp from entering Lake Michigan.
  • Illinois’s response to Michigan’s filings is due December 31.
  • The Supreme Court is meeting in a regularly scheduled “conference” on January 8, and it will take up Michigan’s lawsuit then. Nobody knows what issues it will decide then, much less how it will decide them.

So despite the Supreme Court’s reputation for slow and deliberate action, at least for now this case is moving at warp speed. And that’s essential, because the Asian carp won’t wait.


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