Update: Federal government fails to take decisive action on Asian Carp issue; local meetings held to discuss carp control

At Monday's federal “Carp Summit”, White House officials released a 25-step plan to prevent the migration of Asian Carp into the Great Lakes. Unfortunately, the plan does not include permanent closure of the locks in the Chicago shipping canal. Governor Jennifer Granholm expressed disappointment in the federal administration’s refusal to immediately shut down the locks; Granholm and a coalition of Great Lakes Governors were advocating for permanent closure of the locks. Granholm told reporters that “The economic damages from these carp coming into the Great Lakes system would be irreparable. They should shut the locks down until they get these other measures in place, and permanently have a solution to separating these two water systems.”

The federal carp mitigation plan, which has a $78 million dollar price tag, would include reducing the amount of time the locks are open, building new barriers between the Chicago shipping canal and the Des Plaines River, installing a third electric barrier in the shipping canal, sonar observation and netting of carp in the canal, and long term efforts such as chemical treatment of the canal, and research into carp control methods.

The Alliance for the Great Lakes, Great Lakes United, Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition, Natural Resources Defense Council and National Wildlife Federation released this statement in response to the federal government’s plan:

“We are glad that the Obama Administration agreed to meet with the region’s governors so that the nation can move forward to solve the urgent threat posed by the Asian carp. We also support the role that the EPA is playing to coordinate a unified response by the federal government.

“We are concerned that the document released by the government still does not articulate a clear plan, based on the best available scientific information, which will actually work. The plan is hard to evaluate because it contains fuzzy timelines and lacks triggers for specific actions. Actions in the next year are dependent on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other agencies to deploy now and meet critical deadlines. This plan falls short of providing that clarity.

“At the end of the day, the administration’s plan needs to accomplish one thing: keep the Asian carp out of the Great Lakes until a permanent solution to the crisis is in place.

“If the Obama Administration takes actions now that prevent the carp from entering the Great Lakes—buying much-needed time to implement the long-term solution of separating the Mississippi and Great Lakes watersheds—then it will have succeeded.

“Failure to stop the Asian carp will be devastating to the environment and the economy, which is why we will continue to urge state and federal authorities to do everything in their power to protect the largest source of freshwater in the world from this urgent threat.”

There was a Congressional hearing yesterday, in the House subcommittee on water resources and the environment, to address the Asian Carp threat. Rebecca Humphries, director of the DNRE, testified, and all pending legislation, including Senator Stabenow's CARP ACT, were addressed at the hearing. The CARP ACT, introduced by Stabenow and Representative David Camp, calls for immediate closure of the locks, among other methods of carp control. Click here to read an overview of the hearing.

On the horizon- The Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee will be holding public meetings locally, to discuss the Asian Carp issue. The first will be held in Chicago on February 12. Senior Representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency will be at the meeting to discuss the federal plan, as well as other recommendations on Asian Carp control efforts. The meeting will take place on Friday, February 12, from 3-6 pm, in room 331 of the Metcalfe Federal Building, 77 West Jackson Blvd, Chicago Ill.

Another meeting will be held on Wednesday, February 17, from 3-6 pm, at the Marriott Ann Arbor Ypsilanti at Eagle Crest, located at 1275 South Huron in Ypsilanti. The meeting will focus on the proposed framework for Asian Carp control.

You can submit questions to the committee, or watch live streaming coverage of the meetings, online at http://www.epa.gov/greatlakes/live.