Sunday, February 7, 2010

Michigan Requests That Supreme Court Reconsider Asian Carp Ruling

As reported on this blog, the U.S. Supreme Court recently denied the State of Michigan's request for a preliminary injunction that would have immediately closed Chicago-area locks to protect against Asian carp.  According to a recent press release from the office of Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox, a motion to reconsider that decision was filed on Michigan's behalf:

"Cox pointed to eDNA tests showing evidence of Asian carp in Lake Michigan that was available three days before the Court made its decision but not provided by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers until afterward.  In the aftermath of this revelation, Michigan's motion questions the lack of action by Illinois and federal authorities to increase efforts against the spread of Asian carp despite claims they made in earlier legal filings that they would 're-visit the conclusions related to lock closure' in the event new information became available.

"Additionally, Michigan's motion includes an economic study on the effects of the closure of the locks necessary to separate the Mississippi River basin from the Great Lakes basin.  The study, conducted by a Wayne State University transportation expert, concludes Illinois' claim that 'even a temporary closure of the locks will devastate the local economy' cannot be supported.  For example:

· Statistics previously submitted to the Court by Illinois and the federal government on the potential economic costs of lock closure are 'seriously exaggerated.'  The report says annual costs would amount to less than $70 million, much lower than the $190 million claim made by Illinois and the federal government.  This stands in contrast to the billions in economic activity and thousands of jobs at risk if Asian carp enter the Great Lakes.

· While noting the canal system would largely remain open to barge traffic after a lock closure, cargo though the O'Brien Lock is already down 45 percent in recent years, showing its rapidly declining significance in Chicago's $521 billion economy.

· Truck traffic would increase by only 1/10 of 1 percent as a result of lock closure, while jobs would likely increase overall as a result of the new modes of transposition needed, like trucking."

Stay tuned to the Illinois Environmental Law Blog for more news and developments.


  1. Great blog - just found it through LinkedIn!

    Do you suppose that there is any realistic way to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes short of blocking off the I&M Canal? I realize this economically a disaster for the region (at least the portion of the economy relying on shipping by boat), and therefore not very favorable. Recently though I met someone here at UIUC who is researching sound bubble technology to replace the electric fence currently in place. In a nutshell, he says the electric fence is only effective against AC when the voltage is also high enough to potentially harm people should an accident occur.

    He also mentioned that the problem with physical barriers such as locks is a matter of design - due to the ability of grown carp to jump the barrier (or smaller carp to circumvent it), its possible those approaches might be ineffective as well.

  2. Jennifer,

    Thanks for commenting on my blog. You ask the ultimate question--whether the canal should be blocked. At this point, US EPA has made the determination that the canal should not be permanently blocked. I assume that this determination was made with the views of all stakeholders in mind. I have no reason to doubt that US EPA is making its best efforts on this issue.

    Also, I read somewhere that even blocking the canal will not guarantee that the carp will not get into the Great Lakes. It would be helpful if everyone got on the same page and coordinated their efforts.