The huge, ugly, leaping Asian Carp now threaten the $23 billion fishing-boating economy of the Great Lakes. Five years after Congress ordered the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to find the best and fastest way to stop the invasive fish, the Corps could not come up with a solution. Instead their new 232-page analysis listed eight possibilities and endorsed none of them.
U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, a Michigan Democrat, and Rep. Dave Camp, a Michigan Republican, said the Corps should have picked one approach. They favor separating the two watersheds and have sponsored a bill to do that. Stabenow and Camp also wrote the bipartisan 2012 Stop Invasive Species Act that required the Corps to submit a report now instead of the original 2015/16 deadline. With the carp nibbling at the Chicago foot of Lake Michigan, three more years was too long for these two elected officials to wait for a solution.
Now Stabenow and Camp are calling on Great Lakes residents to contact their Senators and Representative urging the Corps to act before it’s too late. They are also pressing the Corps to work with Congress on a concrete project that can be voted on to get started on the work stopping the carp as soon as possible.
Of the eight proposals – including doing nothing – one would reconstruct Chicago’s waterways, take 25 years, and cost over $18 billion. The single proposal supported by environmentalists and five of the Great Lakes states is to permanently separate the Mississippi River from the Chicago waterways by building two dams. The two Great Lakes states opposing this permanent solution are Illinois and Indiana, both lobbied by their local shipping industries.
The movement to keep invasive species out of the Great Lakes started with Peter Wege’s Healing Our Waters conference in Grand Rapids ten years ago. That work has evolved into the $20 billion Great Lakes Restoration Initiative federal legislation now funding environmental restoration projects throughout the five Lakes.