Thursday, February 4, 2010

Agencies Meeting On Asian Carp Control Efforts

Feb 3: U.S. EPA, on behalf of the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee, announced it will hold a meeting in Chicago on February 12, to discuss plans and get recommendations on Asian carp control efforts. The committee will answer questions and listen to comments from the public. A second meeting will be scheduled in the near future elsewhere in the Great Lakes basin.

Attending the meeting will be: Senior representatives from EPA; Fish and Wildlife Service; Army Corps of Engineers; Coast Guard; State of Illinois and other Great Lakes states; City of Chicago; Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago; White House Council on Environmental Quality; and Scientific experts. The meeting is scheduled for 3:00 – 6:00 PM, Room 331, Metcalfe Federal Building, 77 W. Jackson Blvd., in Chicago. The meeting also will be available via live web stream (see link below). Those who cannot attend the meeting in person can submit questions on the website. EPA also said that, when available, the framework and a transcript of the meeting will be posted on the Coordinating Committee website (see link below). Comments on the framework may also be submitted online at the same website.

In related matters, officials in the Obama Administration and three Great Lakes governors, including are scheduled to meet to discuss the Asian carp threat to the Great Lakes on February 8. Also, on February 9, the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment, Chaired by Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) will be holding a hearing on "Asian Carp and the Great Lakes."

Access a release from EPA on the Feb 12 meeting (click here). Access the live web stream website for the Feb 12 meeting (click here). Access the Coordinating Committee website (click here). Access information on the House Asian Carp hearing (click here).

Michigan Files New Supreme Court Motion To Stop Carp

Feb 4: Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox filed a renewed motion with the U.S. Supreme Court asking for a preliminary injunction to close Chicago-area locks because of new information that became available after the Court denied the original motion on January 19 [See WIMS 1/19/10 & 1/20/10]. Cox pointed to eDNA tests showing evidence of Asian carp in Lake Michigan that was available three days before the Court made its decision but not provided by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers until afterward.

Cox indicates that in the aftermath of this revelation, Michigan's motion questions the lack of action by Illinois and Federal authorities to increase efforts against the spread of Asian carp despite claims they made in earlier legal filings that they would "re-visit the conclusions related to lock closure" in the event new information became available. Additionally, Michigan's motion includes an economic study on the effects of the closure of the locks necessary to separate the Mississippi River basin from the Great Lakes basin. The study, conducted by a Wayne State University transportation expert, concludes Illinois' claim that "even a temporary closure of the locks will devastate the local economy" cannot be supported.

A release from the Attorney General indicates that, Statistics previously submitted to the Court by Illinois and the federal government on the potential economic costs of lock closure are "seriously exaggerated." The report says annual costs would amount to less than $70 million, much lower than the $190 million claim made by Illinois and the Federal government. This stands in contrast to the billions in economic activity and thousands of jobs at risk if Asian carp enter the Great Lakes.

Cox said, "We think the Court should take another look at our request to hit the pause button on the locks until the entire Great Lakes region is comfortable that an effective plan is in place to stop Asian carp. While we would like to see significant and immediate action as a result of next week's meeting between the governors and administration, that is an unknown at this time, so our battle to protect the Lakes will continue." Cox noted that Michigan's request to reopen the "Chicago Diversion" case, supported by Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and the Province of Ontario, remains before the Supreme Court and that briefs are due by February 19. That request seeks a long-term solution to the crisis that will protect the ecology and economy of the Great Lakes.

Access a release from AG Cox (click here).