Snyder wants Great Lakes states to fight Asian carp since Trump is useless

Feb 1, 2018 at 8:50 am
click to enlarge Silver carp jumping in the Fox River in Illinois. - Ryan Hagerty/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Ryan Hagerty/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Silver carp jumping in the Fox River in Illinois.

Invasive Asian carp could be poised to take over the Great Lakes. In June 2017, a 28-inch-long silver carp was caught beyond the electric barrier system that is supposed to keep them out of the Great Lakes, following the 2010 discovery of a bighead carp beyond the barrier. Experts believe that if something is not done, the invasive species could devastate the Great Lakes' ecosystem.

So far, President Donald Trump has been little to no help in Making the Great Lakes Great Again. In March of 2017, the administration proposed cutting EPA funding to restore the Great Lakes by more than 90 percent. (The Republican-led House Appropriations Committee bucked their leader and fought to preserve the funding.) Also in March, the Trump administration delayed the release of a study on improvements to the Brandon Road Lock and Dam on the Des Plaines River near Joliet, Ill. that could help keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes — likely at the behest of shipping industry interests, which opposed the plan.
But now, Gov. Rick Snyder is calling for Great Lakes states and Canadian provinces to join forces to push for the Brandon Road Lock and Dam project. On Wednesday he announced the creation of a "Great Lakes Basin Partnership to Block Asian Carp" to help fund the plan.

"No single state, province, or government jurisdiction should have to bear the sole responsibility of keeping invasive carp out of the Great Lakes," Snyder said in a statement. "Michigan is excited to partner with Ohio, Ontario, and Wisconsin, and is looking to join with other states and provinces in the Great Lakes Basin to work collaboratively. We need to maximize protection against invasive carp species while partnering to ensure commerce on the waterway is efficient and safe and has the capacity to meet long-term navigation needs."

Together, the three states and one Canadian province represent more than 90 percent of the Great Lakes' surface area. The full coalition would also include New York, Minnesota, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Quebec. (Illinois governor Bruce Rauner, however, opposes the Brandon Road plan.)

The study, conducted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, calls for a $275 million federally funded project to improve the barrier. Construction would begin in 2022 and the new barrier would be operational by 2025. The plan would incorporate various technologies to keep the Asian carp at bay, including electric barriers at the lock’s entrances and flushing fish and eggs from the system.

At the press conference, Snyder complained about the Trump administration's delay of the study. "It was frustrating to all of us, how long it took to get this study going and get information out," he said.

The Army Corps would pay 65 percent of the total project. Snyder proposed each of the Great Lakes states and provinces pony up $8 million in annual operating costs, which would be split up proportionally depending on how much surface area of the Great Lakes falls within each.  Another plan to thwart the Asian carp is to tinker with its DNA so the fish can produce only male offspring. The so-called "daughterless gene" could cause the fish to breed themselves into oblivion.