Catch of the Day: Asian Carp

The netting of an adult Asian carp in Lake Calumet has lit a fire under Capitol Hill lawmakers. We’re hearing that key U.S. senators are busy preparing legislation to accelerate a major study to examine how the nation can implement a long-term solution to the Asian carp crisis—building a physical barrier that separates the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins.

That’s a great step forward. And a needed one. The U.S. Congress needs to get tough with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The federal agency has been dragging its feet on a feasibility study examining hydrologic separation. Not long ago the U.S. Army Corps said it would take them years to study if and how they should/would separate the basins. And this renewed shout for urgency doesn’t seem to have changed that.

The U.S. Army Corps press release states that the agency intends to continue to operate the locks and dams in Chicago and during a phone call with the press, spokesman Mike White further deflated listeners when asked if finding this live carp beyond the electronic barrier and just miles from Lake Michigan would inspire a more urgent response, he basically said the Army Corps would think about it, according to National Wildlife Federation Andy Buchsbaum’s blog greatlakesontheground.

“What’s terrifying is that the Corps is the agency that is supposed to decide on whether a permanent separation of the Great Lakes from the Mississippi River is feasible. Given the performance we saw yesterday [on the call], why bother? Their answer is predetermined (since Great Lakes protection apparently isn’t part of the Corps’s mission), and given the low urgency that agency is assigning to this issue, it could be decades before it finishes the study, anyway.”

Thank goodness we have leadership in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives willing to step up and fight for the Great Lakes. Introduction and passage of bills that would expedite the completion of the U.S. Army Corps study is an essential first step to separating the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins. With the recent discovery of the live Asian carp, you can bet that there is widespread support for this much-needed action.

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