Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Great Lakes NGOs Call For Presidential Asian Carp Action

Jun 29: An array of prominent national and Great Lakes conservation NGOs are calling on President Obama to radically change the Federal response to the ongoing Asian carp crisis. In a formal letter sent this morning, the groups express their alarm at "the lack of coordinated action and urgency shown by federal agencies in advancing real solutions to the carp crisis." Saying "it is time for a new sheriff in town," the sharply worded letter includes a request for the appointment of a White House "federal incident commander" to ensure appropriate coordination and instill the transparency that has been missing in the response to date. Noting last week's capture of a live bighead carp beyond any defenses in the Chicago Waterway System, the groups also call for greater speed in the federal response. In particular, the Army Corps of Engineers' Interbasin study of permanent solutions is behind schedule and could take up to seven years to suggest a fix.
    The call for action mirrors a similar request to the President from 11 U.S. Senators calling for a Federal Coordinated Response Commander responsible for organizing efforts to contain the spread of Asian carp. The Senators sending the June 25 letter included: Sherrod Brown (D-OH), George V. Voinovich (R-OH), Carl Levin (D-MI), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Russ Feingold (D-WI), Herb Kohl (D-WI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Al Franken (D-MN), Richard Lugar (R-IN), Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) [See WIMS 6/28/10].
    The NGO letter expresses strong support for the leadership and proposals of U.S. Senators Dick Durbin and Debbie Stabenow and other Senators calling for the appointment of a "federal incident commander", reporting directly to the President. The letter is signed by the Alliance for the Great Lakes, Environment Illinois, Freshwater Future, Great Lakes United, Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition, National Wildlife Federation, Natural Resources Defense Council, Prairie Rivers Network, and Sierra Club.
    The NGO letter indicates, "Fixing this problem requires fixing the infrastructure of the Chicago Waterway System that is exposing the Great Lakes and Mississippi River watersheds to risk from invasive species transfers." It also states that, "There is also a substantial need for greater transparency with regard to the federal government's Asian carp response efforts across the board. The Army Corps and other federal agencies have consistently failed to provide all relevant and useful data and information to the public about the results of environmental DNA testing indicating the presence of Asian carp in Chicago waterways, or with regard to other evidence of the carp's advance in any meaningful timeframe. . . Our nation cannot afford the loss of another great water resource."
    Access a release from the NGOs (click here). Access the complete letter (click here).