The federal government says it will speed up a decision on how to protect the Great Lakes from invasive species in the Mississippi River basin. The Obama administration announced the new timetable Tuesday.
In the past the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers said it would take until 2015 to recommend a way to keep invasives like Asian carp from migrating into the Great Lakes. Under a new plan, the study would be complete by the end of 2013. It would present a number of options and how much each costs. Then lawmakers and the public could weigh in on the best option. Congress will have the authority to make a final choice.
Michigan and other Great Lakes states have sued the federal government, calling for a permanent split between the two watersheds. Michigan's Attorney General said he’d be willing to drop the case if the Army Corps of engineers' study got done quicker. His office says the new timetable is a step in the right direction but doesn't satisfy his concerns.
Scientists differ about how widely the carp would spread in the Great Lakes, but under worst-case scenarios they could severely damage the region's seven billion dollar fishing industry.
Scientists have found traces of carp DNA in Lake Michigan but no actual fish.
Michigan and other states want to permanently close the locks that seperate the Great Lakes from the Mississippi River. But that at would cut off shipping between the lakes and Chicago.