Governor grateful for Obama administration efforts, but restates call for closing locks
LANSING – Governor Jennifer M. Granholm today said that a proposal unveiled by the White House falls short of protecting the Great Lakes from the threat posed by Asian carp and continued her call for the locks in Illinois to be closed to protect the ecosystem and the $9 billion boating and $7 billion sport and commercial fishing industries that support the regional economy.
“I am grateful for the good deal of effort and thought that has gone into this by the Obama administration, but I am very disappointed with the proposal presented today during the White House meeting,” said Granholm. “We have to prevent Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes, but the proposal presented still leaves the lakes vulnerable to this threat.”
Granholm said she supports creating a physical and biological separation between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River watershed that keeps Asian carp from entering Lake Michigan. Granholm has called for closing the locks between the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal electrical barrier and Lake Michigan until that separation is constructed. However, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposes to continue operating the locks while attempts are made to suppress Asian carp populations.
“While we did have some areas of agreement with the White House, we believe that the plan does not adequately address the concerns we have been voicing about the imminent threat Asian carp pose to the Great Lakes,” Granholm said. “I believe the proposal’s primary objectives are not sustainable, and that this is a plan to limit damages – not solve the problem.”
The only options that exist presently for fish population suppressions in rivers and canals are the use of rotenone and crews of commercial fishermen netting fish. To keep the locks open requires frequent poisoning of the waters with rotenone, Granholm noted, as well as long-term monitoring. Neither option is a real solution, she said. Granholm also expressed concern that nearly 70 percent of the funding for the federal Asian carp proposal comes from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GRLI), an interagency plan to target the most significant problems in the region, including invasive aquatic species, non-point source pollution, and contaminated sediment.
“We are concerned they are robbing funds from other vital issues we need to address in Great Lakes restoration,” Granholm said. “The needs we have to address environmental and sustainability issues in the Great Lakes are paramount and a major economic issue for our state.”
Granholm and the Michigan delegation do support the administration’s multi-tiered approach to addressing the Asian carp issue. They also support emergency measures to block passage of water and fish between the Des Plaines River and the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal (CSSC), and the Illinois and Michigan Canal and the CSSC. Michigan also supports increased research of the issue and construction of an additional barrier.
“I applaud the administration for commitment to construction of the second electrical fish barrier, separation of the rivers and canal systems to prevent carp movement during floods, increased research, and an aggressive public education campaign,” Granholm said. “These areas of agreement, however, are not enough to address this very serious issue threatening the health of the Great Lakes and the region’s tourism economy.”