The Cleveland Plain Dealer featured a graphic on its editorial pages this weekend that President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney should pay attention to. The graphic is based on a statewide poll of Ohio voters and their attitudes on what the federal government needs to do to beat back the Asian carp and to restore the Great Lakes. The poll was conducted on behalf of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition.
The poll reveals that 72 percent of voters across the political spectrum—Republicans, Democrats and Independents—want the federal government to continue funding programs to restore the Great Lakes. The poll also finds that far more voters favor rather than oppose (49 percent versus 29 percent) building a physical barrier to stop the advance of the Asian carp into the Great Lakes.
Ohio voters have made it clear: They care about Lake Erie and the other Great Lakes. They want to see this resource—which more than 30 million people depend on for drinking water alone—protected.
What’s not so clear is whether President Obama and Gov. Romney are listening. In February, the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition issued a pledge to both candidates, asking them to commit to two things: maintaining funds for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative; and, building a physical barrier to stop the Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes.
To date, neither President Obama nor Gov. Romney has signed the Great Lakes pledge. Most troubling is the fact that both candidates have refused to provide details on what they would do to stop the greatest and most urgent threat to the Great Lakes—the Asian carp. This is not acceptable.
The Asian carp crisis has been escalating for years. The most recent alarm bells coming from a Canadian study confirming that Asian carp pose a risk to all five Great Lakes and predicting that an established population of Asian carp will disrupt the native fishery, change the ecosystem and create a new food web. The study ends the debate on whether Asian carp pose a risk to the Great Lakes. They do. In fact, it will take as few as 10 female and up to 10 male Asian carp of reproducing age to start reproducing.
The Canadian study underscores the need to act quickly and decisively. On behalf of the millions of people who depend on the Great Lakes for their drinking water, jobs and way of life, President Obama and Gov. Romney need to tell voters how they plan to tackle the Asian carp crisis once and for all.
Mr. Obama, Mr. Romey—what will it be?