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Fri June 29, 2012
Michigan congressman pushes speedier Asian carp response as part of federal highway bill
Update 3:12 p.m.
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) Congress has approved a measure requiring the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to quicken development of a strategy for keeping the Great Lakes free of Asian carp.
Corps officials said in May they would submit a report by the end of 2013, roughly the same time as required under the legislation. But officials said they would provide only a list of options for Congress and the public to consider.
The legislation instead requires specific steps for preventing species migrations at 18 potential entry points, including Chicago-area rivers and canals.
A massive bill, covering everything from highway spending to student loan interest rates to flood insurance, is set to pass the U.S. House and Senate in a rare show of bipartisan deal-making.
And tucked into the legislation is an act that would make the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers speed up their research and planning aimed at keeping Asian carp out of the Great Lakes.
U.S. Rep. Dave Camp (R-Midland) used his spot on a House and Senate negotiation committee to make sure the Stop Invasive Species Act was included as part of the larger law.
The act was introduced by Camp and Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) earlier this year and would force the Corps of Engineers to draft a plan within 18 months---about a year ahead of the current schedule.
In a press release, Camp cast the Asian carp threat in both an environmental and economic light:
“Today Congress took an important step to stop Asian carp from devastating the Great Lakes ecosystem. Over two years ago, a live Asian carp was found in Lake Calumet, less than six miles from Lake Michigan. The responses so far have been temporary fixes when what we need is a permanent solution. The Stop Invasive Species Act lays the groundwork to permanently protect our lakes and the $7 billion fishing industry and 800,000 jobs they support.”
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is tasked with blocking species transfer between the Great Lakes system and the Mississippi River.
-John Klein Wilson, Michigan Radio Newsroom