2017-06-29 / Columns

Senators Have New Alert On Asian Carp

Democratic senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters sounded alarms last week after Asian carp made alarming advance to Lake Michigan, and other Great Lakes issues loom increasingly large on environmental and political scenes.

Peters, a member of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force, said regarding announcement from the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee that an eight-pound silver adult carp has been discovered in Illinois, within nine miles from Lake Michigan and beyond an electric barrier designed to prevent invasive species from entering the Great Lakes basin:

“We know how serious of a threat invasive species like Asian carp are to the Great Lakes ecosystem and economy. This discovery reaffirms that we must do everything we can to prevent Asian carp from reaching the Great Lakes basin, starting with the swift release of the Brandon Road Study to evaluate the next steps needed to protect our waterways from this harmful invasive species. I am very disappointed that the Trump Administration has delayed the release of this critical study, and I will continue working with the entire Michigan Congressional delegation to demand this study’s immediate release.”

Last week, Peters joined in introducing the Stop Asian Carp Now Act, which will require the Trump Administration to release the Brandon Road Study within seven days of the bill’s enactment.

Stabenow, Michigan’s senior senator and co-chair of the Great Lakes Task Force, said this about capture of the carp:

“Today’s news is a wakeup call. It is deeply alarming that a live silver carp was found only nine miles from Lake Michigan. While I’m glad the emergency protocols I helped create through legislation in 2015 played a role in this detection, the fact remains that we need a permanent solution at Brandon Road. We need to know how the silver carp came so close to Lake Michigan, and whether there are any additional carp in the area.”

The eight-pound silver carp was found by a commercial fishing vessel whose activities to combat Asian carp are funded by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI). GLRI funding is also providing resources for emergency monitoring and response actions that will be taken over the next two weeks by the Fish and Wildlife Service, Army Corps of Engineers, and the State of Illinois to detect and stop any additional silver carp in these waters near Lake Michigan.

Last week, Stabenow and U.S. Representative Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) introduced the Stop Asian Carp Now Act. The Brandon Road study would detail a structural solution to stopping Asian carp at a critical chokepoint in the Illinois River. The study has already been delayed by the Trump Administration from its expected release in February of this year.

Stabenow worked with other Great Lakes appropriators to secure language in the fiscal year 2016 omnibus that required the Army Corps to establish formal emergency procedures, including rapid response protocols and monitoring, to prevent Asian carp from reaching Lake Michigan.

It hasn’t quite worked out that way.

Young Challenges Stabenow

Stabenow, elected by a huge 59% margin in 2012, could, in her 2018 reelection bid, face retired Republican Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Young, the top African-American in state government. As often happens in early stages, Young had no formal statement last week, but one could be coming in the week, or weeks, ahead. A lively primary could loom.

George Weeks, a member of the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame, for 22 years was political columnist for The Detroit News and previously with UPI as Lansing bureau chief and foreign editor in Washington. His weekly Michigan Politics column is syndicated by Superior Features.

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