Traverse City Record-Eagle

Michigan

January 8, 2014

Army Corps report doesn’t resolve carp debate

Army Corps report doesn’t resolve debate

TRAVERSE CITY — The debate over how to protect the Great Lakes from voracious Asian carp appeared no closer to settlement Tuesday following release of a federal report with options that could cost billions and require extensive re-engineering of Chicago’s busy waterway network.

Most of the long-term strategies in the Army Corps’ report issued Monday would require 10 to 25 years to complete.

And there were no signs that the region’s competing interests would coalesce behind one approach and work together to pay for it.

Environmental groups continued to press for complete physical separation of the watersheds, while groups representing cargo shippers and businesses in the Chicago area remained staunchly opposed. Statements from members of the region’s congressional delegation reflected those divisions.

The parties involved don’t even agree on what the next step should be.

The Army Corps prepared for a public meeting Thursday in Chicago, the first of seven it will host across the region this month to explain the report and get feedback. But project manager Dave Wethington told The Associated Press the Corps would take no further action without direction from Congress, unless some other agency or organization offers to fund additional study of one or more options in the document.

“The Corps believes we met the intent of congressional legislation” that kicked off the study and a follow-up 2012 measure that set a deadline for completing it, Wethington said. “What we hope to do now is present the technical information, answer any lingering questions and receive input from the public as part of a record that we can provide to the decision-makers to help them make a choice.”

But Sen. Debbie Stabenow and Rep. Dave Camp of Michigan, who sponsored the 2012 bill, said they’d hoped the Corps would recommend one course of action and provide a fully developed blueprint for achieving it.

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