Tuesday, February 28, 2012

U.S. Supreme Court Denies States' Asian Carp Suit

Feb 27: In a brief order by the U.S. Supreme Court, in the case of Michigan, et al., Petitioners v. United States Army Corps of Engineers, et al. (SupCt No. 11-541) denied the States' petitions for writs of certiorari. The Order notes that Justice Kagan took no part in the consideration or decision of these petitions.
    On October 26, 2011 Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette filed a request for appeal with the Supreme Court to review a U.S. Court of Appeals decision that denied the request of five Great Lakes states for an immediate injunction against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers [See WIMS 10/26/11]. Michigan and the states of Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin were requesting that the Army Corps greatly speed up their study on the ecological separation of the Lake Michigan and Mississippi basins to prevent the advancement of invasive Asian carp toward Lake Michigan. Additionally the states requested an injunctive order compelling the Corps to place block nets in the Little Calumet and Grand Calumet Rivers.
    On August 24, 2011, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit in Chicago issued a ruling on a preliminary injunction request concluding that Michigan's lawsuit had "a good or even substantial likelihood of success on the merits of their public nuisance claim." [See WIMS 9/6/11]. Despite the recognition of the real threat posed by Asian carp, the Court denied the states' request. The states then decided to appeal. The states' petition asked the Supreme Court to overturn the 7th Circuit decision and order.
    Access the Supreme Court order (click here, page 6). Access the Supreme Court docket in the case (click here). Access the 32-page Petition for a Writ of Certiorari (click here). 
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Great Lakes Commission Gets Updates At DC Meeting

Feb 28: A release from the Great Lakes Commission (GLC) indicates that the first details of a renegotiated Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA) between the United States and Canada emerged this week in Washington at a GLC meeting.  Cameron Davis, senior advisor for the Great Lakes at U.S. EPA, said that although the document has not been finalized, "We have an agreement in principle." The Parties are scheduled to report to the public on the outcome of the GLWQA negotiation sessions on March 5, at a meeting beginning at 3 PM (EST) and a copy of the presentation will be released 48 hours before the meeting [See WIMS 2/27/12].
    Also unveiled at the meeting were the Commission's FY 2013 Federal legislative priorities which include preventing the introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species, cleaning up contaminated sediments, controlling polluted runoff, restoring degraded wetlands, and conserving fish and wildlife resources. Davis noted that the new GLWQA's forward-looking orientation will be more effective in identifying and responding to emerging environmental threats to the Great Lakes. He said, "Even before they became established in the Great Lakes, we knew that zebra mussels were likely coming, but we could not move fast enough. This new agreement will allow us to respond to such threats much more effectively."
    The Commission received a firsthand report on the 2012 Farm Bill from Chris Adamo, staff director for the Senate Agriculture Committee, chaired by Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI). Reauthorization of the Farm Bill with strong provisions for conservation programs such as those supporting control of soil erosion and agricultural runoff is another high priority for the Commission. GLC Chair James Tierney said, "The 2012 Farm Bill is not only important to maintaining and enhancing our agricultural productivity , but also to protecting the Great Lakes from one of the greatest threats to water quality: non-point source pollution."
    Also appearing before the Great Lakes Commission was EPA Assistant Administrator Nancy Stoner who provided an update on a new, more integrated approach to stormwater and waste water management. In addition to being more effective in dealing with overflows impacting Great Lakes water quality, the new approach is more cost effective. The Commission also heard updates on efforts to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes, including a recently released study by the Commission and the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, outlining engineering approaches to separation of the Chicago Areas Waterway System of the Great Lakes from the Mississippi River where Asian carp have been migrating northward since the 1980s.
    Acknowledging the substantial backlog of dredging in the Great Lakes that has impaired navigational access to many ports and harbors, the Commission moved to support development of new legislation to provide federal funding for harbor maintenance, particularly for low-use commercial and recreational harbor communities.  John Goss, Asian carp director for the White House Council on Environmental Quality, presented the U.S. federal government's strategic framework for Asian carp control in FY2012, which will be supported by a $51 million budget commitment [See WIMS 2/24/12].
    Access a release from GLC (click here). Access the GLC website for more information (click here).
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