Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Judge dismisses Asian carp prevention case, says Great Lakes states need to get Congress's help

Asian carp with white bass in Chicago's
Shedd Aquarium (Spencer Green, AP)
A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit filed by five states to prevent Asian carp from invading the Great Lakes through Chicago-area canals that lead to the Mississippi River system, but said he would consider new arguments if the states filed another suit.

The carp are on the verge of invading the Great Lakes, and scientists say if they are allowed to "gain a foothold," they will outcompete other fish species, and severely damage the region's $7 billion fishing industry, Flesher and Webber report. Control efforts have been largely successful, but it only takes a few breeding carp to close the deal. Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio and Pennsylvania filed suit, claiming that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Chicago's Metropolitan Water Reclamation District haven't done enough to keep the fish from using canals to enter Lake Michigan.

District Judge John Tharp ruled that he couldn't order the agencies to do what the states want because federal law requires the Corps to keep shipping channels open, and prohibits building dams in navigable waters without Congress' approval. In his ruling, Tharp said he was "mindful of, and alarmed by, the potentially devastating ecological, environmental, and economic consequences that may result from the establishment of an Asian-carp population in the Great Lakes." But the proper way for the states to win approval of separating the waterways is through Congress, he said. (Read more)

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