Michigan's attorney general files a lawsuit that seeks to close two
shipping locks near Chicago, sealing off the fish's most direct route to
the Great Lakes.
Reporting from Chicago - The fight to keep invasive Asian carp out of
the Great Lakes reached the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday, as Michigan's
attorney general filed a lawsuit seeking closure of two shipping locks
Claiming Illinois officials have been lax, Michigan Atty. Gen. Mike Cox
asked justices for immediate action to seal off the most direct route
for fish entering Lake Michigan, in hopes of protecting the region's
$7-billion fishing industry.
"We don't want to have to look back years later . . . and say, 'What was
the matter with us? We should have done something,' " Cox said. Closing
the locks, he said, was "the easiest, the most reliable and the most
effective" short-term step officials could take.
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn declined to say whether he favored closing the
locks, but added: "We have to protect the ecology of the Great Lakes; we
also have many, many jobs that depend on shipping, so there has to be a
"There are ways of preventing the carp from getting into the Great Lakes
without strangling our economy."
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which operates the locks and is a
codefendant in the lawsuit, declined to comment.
In addition to closing the locks, the lawsuit seeks creation of barriers
to prevent carp from escaping the Des Plaines River or neighboring
waterways during flooding. Cox also called for a study of Chicago's
water system to understand the size and scope of the Asian carp
The lawsuit comes during a period of heightened anxiety over recent DNA
research that hinted the voracious fish may have bypassed an underwater
electric barrier system -- and could now be within six miles of Lake
Michigan. In August, Quinn signed into law a $3-million program giving
universities and researchers authority to fish as many varieties of
Asian carp as they could find. Last week, Illinois was awarded $13
million in federal funds to deal with the carp problem.
In filing the lawsuit, Michigan was asking that the high court reopen a
100-year-old case sparked by Chicago's reversing the flow of the Chicago
River to send its sewage and human waste away from Lake Michigan and
toward the Mississippi River. A number of states around the Great Lakes
complained that Chicago's manipulation of the waterways was harming the
lakes. The courts responded by limiting the amount of water Chicago
could divert each day.
Hundreds of millions of dollars in commercial barge traffic pass through
the area each year, with much of it proceeding to harbors in Lake
Michigan, said the American Waterways Operators, a trade group for the
barge industry. Thousands of recreational boaters also use the locks.
The Alliance for the Great Lakes, which recently studied permanently
closing Chicago's shipping canals over fear of invasive species, said
there was too much at risk to dismiss closing locks entirely.
"That canal is becoming a liability because it's putting the future of
the Great Lakes at risk," said Joel Brammeier, chief executive officer
of the alliance. "Right now, it's every tool in the toolbox, whatever it
takes to keep the carp from getting into the Great Lakes."
Nancy Pelosi, Democrat criminal, accessory before and after the fact, to
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles B. Rangel of New York's
million dollar tax evasion. Charles B. Rangel is still under
"investigation" by a "closed door" House Ethics Committee.
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