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Take the carp threat seriously

Published: Sun, December 11, 2011 @ 12:00 a.m.

Take the carp threat seriously

A Michigan legislator has spon- sored a Stop Asian Carp amendment to the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act, and it deserves the full support of all Lake Erie-state senators, including Ohio’s Sherrod Brown, D, and Rob Portman, R.

We continue to view the threat from invasive species, especially the Asian carp, as an existential battle for all the Great Lakes. Most of the shore states and the two Canadian provinces have shown an appropriate sense of concern and have been willing to demand federal action.

The weak link has been Illinois, where protecting Chicago’s canal between Lake Michigan and the Mississippi River has been seen as more important than protecting the lakes themselves from a voracious enemy of Great Lakes ecology. And, unfortunately, President Barack Obama has tended to reflect the Chicago-centric nonchalance toward the carp’s threat.

The National Wildlife Federation, which has a Great Lakes Regional Center, gives this assessment of the amendment: It requires the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to expedite its study on the feasibility of options to prevent the transfer of invasive species between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River. Such a study is essential in order to build a permanent barrier, but the Army Corps has said it will not complete its study until 2015.

The amendment submitted by Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., would require the Army Corps to complete its study within 18 months and would establish strong oversight provisions to keep the project on target.

Even the Corps of Engineers has acknowledge the seriousness of the threat in a roundabout way by announcing recently that it was increasing the voltage of the electric barrier that is supposed to keep the carp from reaching the lake. Few outside of Chicago seriously think shocking the carp is a permanent solution.

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