Thursday, January 13, 2011

New MI Attorney General Continues Asian Carp Legal Actions

Jan 13: Michigan's new Attorney General Bill Schuette announced he will renew and continue efforts to protect Michigan's environment and economy by continuing Michigan's lawsuit initiated by former Attorney General Mike Cox that is aimed at stopping the march of Asian carp into the Great Lakes. Schuette was joined by the Office of the Great Lakes Director Patty Birkholz and the Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC). Schuette said, "Standing by and letting Asian carp invade the Great Lakes would be an unprecedented ecological and economic disaster. We must defend Michigan's unique environment and fight to keep Michigan jobs." 

    Schuette indicated that he met with leaders of Michigan's environmental and sportsmen's communities this week to form a united front in the fight to block Asian carp. These groups included MUCC, Trout Unlimited, Michigan Steelhead and Salmon Fishermen's Association, National Wildlife Federation, Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council, Nature Conservancy, and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). Birkholz said, "The imminent invasion by Asian carp through the Chicago area waterways is one of the most significant threats ever to the Great Lakes. As a state, we must join with others and take all necessary actions to stop the invasion. The Office of the Great Lakes and others in the Department of Natural Resources and Environment stand ready to help any way possible."

    Schuette's suit calls for both long-term and immediate actions by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago. Schuette is asking the Court to force the Army Corps of Engineers to shorten their planning to create a permanent ecological barrier between the Mississippi and Great Lakes from five years to 18 months. This is vital to stopping not only the flow of invasive species into the Great Lakes, but to stop their movement down into the Mississippi basin.
    While the study is being completed, Schuette is asking for increased activity in a number of areas to stop the Asian carps' advance, including: Operating locks in a way that limits the movement of the fish; Installing other interim physical barriers to fish passage; Increased monitoring for evidence of the fish beyond current electrical barriers using the best available techniques, including environmental DNA (eDNA)testing; and Targeted poisoning and netting in Chicago-area waterways. 

    The repeated discovery of Asian carp eDNA beyond electrical barriers in Chicago, in addition to the discovery of a live carp beyond the barrier, brought together a coalition of five Great Lakes states in the suit, with Michigan being joined by Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio and Pennsylvania on July 19, 2010. The most recent district court action on the case occurred on January 7, 2011 in which the Court considered plans to schedule the ongoing suit.In addition, Michigan has filed an appeal of a December 2, 2010 ruling that denied Michigan's motion for a preliminary injunction that would put immediate remedies in place, such as closing locks and increasing monitoring, as the underlying case goes forward. Michigan's brief supporting its request for the preliminary injunction is due to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit by January 26, 2011.
    Access a release from the MI Attorney General (click here).

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