Editorial: Don’t wait too long to control Asian carp

Here is an editorial that comes to us through the AP, via the
Times Herald, on the asian carp issue threatening the Great Lakes
region.

Even if you suspect someone wants to kill you, it can be a
difficult thing to prove. If the killer succeeds, of course, it
becomes a much easier case to make.

In a similar situation, a federal judge in northern Illinois has
denied a request by the attorneys general of five states _
Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin _ to close
the canals and locks connecting Lake Michigan with the Mississippi
River watershed.

In a 61-page opinion, U.S. District Judge Robert M. Dow Jr. said
the five states failed to make a convincing case that Asian carp
represent an “imminent” danger to the Great Lakes.

He acknowledged “the potential harm in a worst-case scenario is
great,” but concluded it would be impossible to show damages until
and unless the invasive fish actually enter the Great Lakes.

In other words, we’ll know a murder has been committed when we
see the corpse.

In the past two decades, Asian carp became the dominant fish
species in the Mississippi watershed. Chicago’s century-old canals
provide a gateway to the Great Lakes.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is using electric barriers in
an effort to halt the carp’s advance. If the tactic fails, Asian
carp could change the Great Lakes ecosystem dramatically and
permanently.

Perhaps the greatest threat is to the fisheries of Lake St.
Clair and Lake Erie, which contain warmer waters favored by the
carp, as well as potential spawning streams such as the Black, Pine
and Belle rivers.

No states have more to lose than Michigan and Ohio, where
recreational boating and fishing are billion-dollar
enterprises.

They are opposed by Illinois, which profits from shipping
traffic between the two watersheds. Closing the connecting link
also would foul Lake Michigan with combined-sewer overflows from
Chicago, which currently spills its wastes into tributaries of the
Mississippi.

Dow’s ruling is the latest in a long series of judicial defeats
for those who wish to close the Chicago diversion, which removes
2.068 billion gallons of water per day from the Great Lakes.

President Barack Obama, who cut his political teeth in Illinois,
has seemed oblivious to the concerns of those who fear for the
Great Lakes ecosystem.

His “carp czar” _ John Goss of the White House Council on
Environmental Quality _ is confronting the threat with something
less than a sense of urgency. For instance, the Army Corps has been
ordered to complete a “comprehensive study” by 2014 or 2015.

By then, it may be too late, which apparently is the point.
Those who believe the carp threat is overblown or trivial are
playing a waiting game. Once the carp are in the Great Lakes,
they’ve won.

 

Categories: Asian Carp, News Archive

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