Court won't close shipping canal immediately to stop invasive carp

Feb 27, 2012

This post has been updated with more details and comments from AG's office. 

Shipping locks in Chicago-area waterways will not be closed while a lawsuit over how to keep Asian Carp out of the Great Lakes is pending. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the injunction Monday.

Michigan and other Great Lakes states have a pending lawsuit that calls for permanently splitting the man-made link between the Mississippi and Great Lakes; but without stopping shipping between the lakes and Chicago. The Army Corp of Engineers says it’ll take years to complete a study on how to do that. “We don’t want to hurt a single job in Michigan or Illinois but the Army Corp has made clear that they’re going to take years,” said John Selleck and Michigan Attorney General spokesman. “That’s simply unacceptable,” Selleck said.

The states wanted the Supreme Court to close the shipping locks while that lawsuit works its way through the court system. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette says they’re worried the invasive carp will get into the Great Lakes before the federal government can agree on a long term solution.

“Everybody in the Great Lakes ought to know that right now the Asian Carp is knock, knock, knocking on the Great Lakes door,” Shuette said.

Scientists have found traces of carp DNA in Lake Michigan but no actual fish.

Selleck says they’d be willing to drop the case if the Army Corps of Engineer’s study on how to stop the carp would move quicker or if President Obama took action.

“We really need to continue to be aggressive and urge people to have their congressional delegations like Michigan’s across the Great Lakes, follow Michigan in terms of putting the heat on the Corps of Engineers,” Schuette said.

The federal government will have spent more than $150 million over 3 years in the fight against the invasive carp. Scientists differ about how widely the carp would spread in the Great Lakes, but under worst-case scenarios they could severely damage the $7 billion fishing industry.