Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Merit Hearings On Asian Carp Lawsuit Begin In Chicago

Sep 7: Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox said he was pleased that the Great Lakes will finally get their day in court, with testimony being heard for the first time in Michigan's long fight to stop the migration of Asian carp into Lake Michigan and the other Great Lakes. On August 23, Judge Robert M. Dow, Jr. of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, in Chicago, heard arguments regarding Michigan's motion for Preliminary Injunction. The Judge scheduled the first evidentiary hearings on the merits of Michigan's lawsuit for September 7 and 8; and an additional date of September 10. Attorneys general from Wisconsin, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Ohio have joined Cox in his lawsuit, which was filed July 19, 2010.

    On September 7, well-known biologist Dr. David Lodge, of the University of Notre Dame lead off with testimony regarding the wide-spread presence of Asian carp eDNA at multiple locations near and in Lake Michigan. Written testimony supporting Michigan and four other states has been submitted from experts including biologist Dr. Tammy Newcomb, of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment (MDNRE), who argues the threat to the Great Lakes and its waterways is urgent and will cause great damage if not stopped at Chicago, and transportation policy expert Dr. John C. Taylor, of Wayne State University, who notes that barge traffic affected by lock closure accounts for less than one percent of all freight traffic in Chicago.

    On August 31, 2010 the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians filed a motion to join the attorneys general as an additional party to the lawsuit. According to the motion, the tribe is concerned with the negative impact Asian carp could have on Great Lakes fisheries,  citing tribal fishing rights in the Great Lakes and adjoining inland waterways.  
    Dr. Lodge is a national expert on invasive species with experience pioneering the use of eDNA technology to detect Asian carp in Chicago area waterways. He explained how scientific evidence illustrates the urgent threat of Asian carp invading Great Lakes waterways and the critical need to take action. He is an independent scientist who was not hired by the State of Michigan. Previously, he was employed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to assist their study of Asian carp. In February of 2010, Dr. Lodge testified before the U.S. House of Representatives.

    Michigan's request before the court calls for the temporary closure of the O'Brien and Chicago Locks and blocking other pathways in the Chicago water system, except as needed to protect public health and safety, the increased use of rotenone fish poison and the installation of nets and other physical barriers, among other actions.  The lawsuit makes clear that all of the requested action would be subject to exceptions to prevent flooding, allow access for emergency responders and any other action necessary to prevent serious threats to public health and safety.
    Access the latest release from the MI attorney general (click here). Access the August 23 release from the MI attorney general (click here).