Some Great Lakes Congressmen Call for Locks to Close & Permanent Separation of Basins; Others May Follow

The Great Lakes Task Force has been circulating a letter on Capitol Hill urging immediate action to stop the Asian Carp from entering the Great Lakes. They join Michigan’s Governor in calling for the locks to be closed and consideration of creating a permanent hydrological separation the Great Lakes and the Canal.

The letter to the Assistant Secretary of the Army, Jo-Ellen Darcy, US Coast Guard Commandant Thad Allen, Environmental Protection Agency Director Lisa Jackson and US Fish and Wildlife Service Director Sam Hamilton expresses great distress. The Congressmen ask them to consider closing the O’Brien and Chicago Locks if there is “reasonable likelihood that Asian carp are above the barrier,” they urge consideration of the Alliance for the Great Lakes and HOW’s recommendation that the basins be separated permanently and they also suggest implementing the recommendations of the rapid response team, continuing the use of piscicides and increasing the voltage of the electric barrier.

So far, the only open opposition to closing the locks and separating the basins has come from the American Waterways Operators who run the barges full of coal, heating oil and such to the Greater Chicago Area. In a letter last July to the US Transportation Department, the trade group asserts their rights to use the Chicago Sanitary and Shipping Canal and requests delays in turning the electric barrier’s voltage up until it is thoroughly studied. You can bet they are against closing the locks and a permanent separation of the basins. We still don’t know how much this industry contributes to the economy of the region but it will have to be lots of dollars to pay for the cost of letting Asian Carp into the Lakes and destroying a $7 billion sport fishing and recreational economy.

A number of Great Lakes lawmakers have already signed onto the letter but the deadline has been extended to Dec. 17 to garner as many signatures as possible. In the Senate, Carl Levin (Mich.), George Voinovich(OH), Debbie Stabenow (Mich.), Russ Feingold (Wisc.), Sherrod Brown (OH), Robert Casey (PA) and Ronald Burris (Ill.) have signed the letter. In the House, Reps. Vern Ehlers (Mich.), Louis Slaughter (NY), John Dingell (Mich.), Mark Kirk (Ill.), Nancy Kaptur (OH), Sandy Levin (Mich.), Brian Higgins (NY), July Biggert (Ill.), Gwen Moore (Wisc.), Mike Quigley (Ill.), Gary Peters (Mich.), Betty Sutton (OH), John Conyers (Mich.), Fred Upton (Mich.), Candice Miller (Mich.), Tim Brown (Ind.), Pete Visclosky (Ind.), Mike Rogers (Mich.) and Dave Camp (Mich.).

With such a needed, urgent message it is imperative that we get this out there with as many names as we can so if you don’t see your Congressmen’s name here please call the Capitol Switchboard 202-224-3121 and ask your Senator or Representative to sign on by calling Joy Mulinex in Senator Carl Levin’s office.

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