Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Closing Arguments In Asian Carp Case In Chicago

Oct 18: According to media reports, "The reliability of DNA [eDNA] testing suggesting Asian carp may already be in waterways near Lake Michigan was the focus of final arguments Monday in a lawsuit seeking the closure of Chicago-area shipping locks to halt the spread of the invasive fish." The Judge is expected to rule on the matter within several weeks [See WIMS 9/8/10]. 
    Noah Hall, author of the Great Lakes Law blog reported that the oral argument in State of Michigan, et al. v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, et al., Case No. 1:10-cv-04457 (N.D. Ill.), was likely the final court hearing in a series of hearings held by District Judge Robert M. Dow to allow a full airing of the legal and factual issues relevant to the motion filed by the Great Lakes States (Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio, and Pennsylvania) for a preliminary injunction against the Army Corps and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD). The states are seeking short-term measures, such as a temporary closure of the navigational locks connecting the Chicago Area Waterway System (CAWS) to Lake Michigan, to head off the imminent threat of an Asian carp invasion. Hall reports that, "As their ultimate remedy in the case, the States seek an order compelling expedited review of permanently separating the Great Lakes and Mississippi River, to prevent invasive species from using the CAWS as a highway to travel in both directions."
    The UnLock Our Jobs coalition, a project of the Chemical Industry Council of Illinois which is dedicated to protecting the waterway connection between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River issued a release saying, "The closing arguments provided by the plaintiff state attorneys general this week reiterate that their case depends entirely on unproven eDNA testing methods and the discovery of a single fish in Lake Calumet, likely transported by humans. Throughout the trial, the Great Lakes Attorneys General have failed to produce any evidence to support their claim that continued operation of the locks poses a public nuisance."

    Mark Biel, executive director of the Chemical Industry Council of Illinois and chair of the Coalition said, "This frivolous lawsuit has only shed more light on the state's complete lack of evidence supporting lock closure," said The plaintiff's case is based on flawed arguments. There is no evidence the barriers in the Chicago Area Waterway System have failed, no evidence that economic or ecological harm to the Great Lakes is imminent and most importantly, no evidence that lock closure would reduce the risks to the Great Lakes. So while the Army Corps of Engineers and other government agencies rely on the opinion of experts, the plaintiff states continue to rely solely on speculation and fear mongering in this matter.  The final briefs submitted today only further expose the fact that their arguments are completely without merit."

    Access a Washington Post/AP media report on the hearing (click here). Access the posting of attorney Hall for links to extensive background and detailed insights to the legal options (click here). Access a release from the UnLock Our Jobs coalition (click here). Access the AsianCarp.org website for more information (click here).