Traverse City Record-Eagle

Our Views

March 21, 2014

Editorial: New strategies, resolve needed to halt Asian carp

When — “if” seems way too optimistic — Asian carp finally take hold in the Great Lakes and the sport fishing and recreational boating industries have taken billion-dollar hits, remember Richard Durbin, Mark Kirk, Daniel Coats and Joe Donnelly.

They’re the U.S. Senators from Illinois and Indiana, respectively, who refused to sign a letter to the U,S, Army Corps of Engineers asking a series of questions about the Corps’’ plan of action — if it has one — to prevent Asian carp from invading the Great Lakes.

The letter also pointed out, once again, that time counts.

“We want to impress upon you the need to implement short-term measures to stop Asian carp from getting into the Great Lakes, and to move aggressively toward a long-term solution,” the letter said.

That this latest missive will fall upon deaf ears seems a given. In what is becoming a more and more brazen power play, politicians from Illinois (including, one can assume, President Obama) and Indiana and lobbyists for a host of Chicago-area business interests appear to have effectively slowed the Army Corps’ response to the Asian carp threat to a crawl.

The Corps hasn’t actually stopped working on the problem. It’s just that every move it makes regarding this issue is incredibly slow, even by bureaucratic standards. In a recent report that took more than four years to complete, the Corps said one option — it declined to say which of eight options it preferred, leaving that decision to politicians — would cost $18 billion and take 25 years to complete.

That plan, to physically separate the Great Lakes and Mississippi River watersheds by placing structures in Chicago-area waterways, just happened to be the same plan favored by the six states represented in the letter and many environmental and advocacy groups.

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