Michigan calls on Army Corps of Engineers to block Asian carp

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has joined attorneys general from Minnesota and Pennsylvania in calling for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to revise their “Tentatively Selected Plan” to prevent the spread of Asian carp to the Great Lakes. The joint-letter was sent in response to the Corps request for comments on the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study Brandon Road Draft Integrated Feasibility Study and Environmental Impact Statement – Will County, Ill., released Aug. 2017.

The bipartisan group of Great Lakes Attorneys General called on the Corps to rethink their current “Tentatively Selected Plan” which would retrofit the Brandon Road Lock and Dam with a combination of technologies intended to deter the movement of Asian carp.

“Asian carp have been an imminent threat to the Great Lakes since before I took office in 2011,” said Schuette. “It is time that a permanent and effective solution be implemented to prevent the spread of this invasive species. The Great Lakes are the crown jewel of the Midwest and the potential damage both environmentally and economically from Asian carp is too great to risk, which is why we have asked the Corps to close the Brandon Road Lock.”

In their letter, the attorneys general emphasize that the Corps’ own analysis showed that closing the Brandon Road Lock is the most effective and reliable option to stopping the spread of Asian carp to the Great Lakes. The letter specifically highlights the Lock Closure Alternative as the option that can be implemented in the shortest time frame and that has the lowest direct cost to taxpayers.

The Lock Closure Alternative, which would include replacing the existing locks with a permanent concrete wall, is estimated to cost $5.9 million compared to the estimated $275.3 million it will cost to implement carp deterring technologies.

The attorneys general also challenged the Draft Report’s tentative conclusion that its estimated “Costs of Impact to Navigation” or “lost transportation cost savings” should rule out the Lock Closure Alternative. The letter explains that the Corps’ analysis of the issue is legally and factually flawed. It also points to, and incorporates, a report prepared for the State of Michigan by transportation experts that concludes the Corps’ estimates are grossly overstated, and that increased transportation costs would be hundreds of millions less than the Draft Report suggests. Finally, the letter criticizes the Draft Report for failing to meaningfully balance such increased transportation costs against the far greater ecological and economic harm the public will suffer if Asian carp invade the Great Lakes

“In sum, the Report obscures the fact it is the failure to prevent the establishment of Asian carp in the Great Lakes, not the closure of the Brandon Road Lock, that will cost the public too much,” the attorneys general wrote.