Schuette: Latest Army Corps ‘action plan’ leaves Michigan vulnerable to Asian Carp invasion

Published 7:21 pm Tuesday, January 7, 2014

LANSING — Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette recently responded to the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study (GLMRIS) Report issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, saying any plan that fails to aggressively pursue a full ecological separation of the Mississippi River and Great Lakes basins leaves Michigan and the Midwest at risk to severe ecological and economic damage. The GLMRIS report was released on the last day of an 18-month deadline set by Congress in 2012.

“The report released today illustrates the Obama Administration’s unacceptable lack of urgency to truly stop the spread of Asian Carp to the Great Lakes,” said Schuette.  “Just last month, the Corps released another report highlighting that current control measures – shocking fish – are not fool-proof.  Any plan that falls short of permanent ecological separation leaves Michigan’s economy and ecology at risk.”

On July 6, 2012, the Stop Asian Carp Act, sponsored by Rep. Dave Camp, was signed into law as   Section 1538 of Public Law 112-141, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, requiring an action plan from the Corps within eighteen months.

The law directed the Corps to speed up plans to prevent Asian carp, and other invasive species, from entering the Great Lakes.  Specifically, the law directed the Corps to focus on hydrologically separating the Mississippi River and Great Lakes Basins at the Chicago Area Waterway System, the likeliest route for Asian carp to enter the Great Lakes.  And the law provided for the Corps to proceed directly, without further delay, to preconstruction engineering and design of the project.

The GLMRIS Report again fails to put forward a meaningful plan to separate the Great Lakes from Asian carp-infested waters in Illinois.  Instead, the Report does not even recommend hydrologic separation or any other plan to permanently block the movement of invasive species through the Chicago Waterway; it just lists a series of options, some of them taking up to 25 years to implement, and suggests still more studies before any plan is chosen and put in place.

On Dec. 20, the Corps released another report admitting that Asian carp can effectively evade electrical barriers by swimming in large groups or between barges.  Environmental DNA testing has repeatedly shown evidence of Asian carp activity moving beyond these barriers, proving the need to take more immediate action toward permanent ecological separation of the two basins before it is too late to close the door and protect the Great Lakes.

The Army Corps will host a series of public meetings to discuss the contents of the report.  Schuette encourages Michigan residents to attend one of the two scheduled Michigan meetings to express support for a plan to achieve permanent ecological separation as soon as possible.