Contact: Jon MacDonagh-Dumler, Great Lakes Commission, (734) 971-9135 or email@example.com.
Stopgap funding preserves Great Lakes carp barrier – for now
Great Lakes advocates are breathing a sigh of relief, now that Congress has passed emergency legislation to maintain an electronic barrier protecting the lakes from a potentially catastrophic invasion by destructive Asian carp.
Great Lakes Commission Chairman Tom Huntley congratulated Congress and called on it to now take action to ensure the barrier’s permanent operation.
“Right now, this barrier is the only thing that stands between the lakes and the invasive Asian carp, a monster of a fish that could have a devastating effect on the Great Lakes food chain were it ever to become established there,” Huntley said. “We applaud Congressional leaders for providing this emergency reprieve and we urge Congress to provide the funding to permanently keep the electricity flowing.”
On Thursday, the Senate approved legislation that will allow the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to continue operating the electronic fish barrier in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. The legislation restores the barrier’s funding authority, which recently expired, through the end of the fiscal year. The House approved the measure on Tuesday.
“This is welcome news for anyone who cares about the Great Lakes and their ecological health and biodiversity,” Huntley continued. He expressed gratitude to a bipartisan coalition of senators and representatives who worked together to ensure that the funding was included in the conference report on the FY06 Emergency Supplemental bill (H.R. 4939; H. Rept. 109-494), among them Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL), Rep. Judy Biggert, (R-IL) and Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH). Others included Sen. Mike DeWine (R-OH), Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM), Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL), Rep. Dave Hobson (R-OH), Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL), Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) and Rep. Pete Visclosky (D-IN).
Asian carp, which can reach sizes in excess of 100 lbs., are sometimes called “aquatic vacuum cleaners” for their voracious appetites, able to consume 2-3 times their weight in plankton each day. Brought into the U.S. to control algae in southern fish farms, they escaped into the Mississippi River and now stand on the threshold of the Great Lakes via the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal.
The barrier creates an electric charge in the water column that discourages Asian carp and other fish from crossing it and moving upstream toward Lake Michigan. It actually consists of two barriers, a smaller demonstration barrier built to prove the technology and a more powerful permanent barrier. The demonstration barrier also provides a second layer of protection to the permanent barrier. The legislation allows the Corps to continue operating the demonstration barrier for the remainder of the fiscal year – through September – and to redirect other funds for the operation of the permanent barrier on an ongoing basis.
The legislation was included as part of a larger supplemental measure funding the war in Afghanistan and Iraq and hurricane recovery (HR 4939).
While the supplemental legislation ensures that both barriers will remain in operation for the time being, permanent funding for their operation and completion of a necessary backup power supply is still needed. To secure the barriers’ permanent operation, Huntley urged that Congress take the next steps and pass legislation to provide the authority and funding for the permanent authorization of both barriers.
The Great Lakes Commission, chaired by the Hon. Thomas E. Huntley (Minnesota), is a nonpartisan, binational compact agency established under state and U.S. federal law and dedicated to promoting a strong economy, healthy environment and high quality of life for the Great LakesSt. Lawrence region and its residents. The Commission consists of state legislators, agency officials and governors’ appointees from its eight member states. Associate membership for Ontario and Québec was established through the signing of a “Declaration of Partnership.” The Commission maintains a formal Observer program involving U.S. and Canadian federal agencies, tribal authorities, binational agencies and other regional interests. The Commission offices are located in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Great Lakes Commission
The Hon. Thomas E. Huntley, Chair; Thomas R. Crane, Interim Executive Director
Eisenhower Corporate Park • 2805 S. Industrial Hwy. Suite 100 • Ann Arbor, Michigan • 48104-6791
734-971-9135 • Fax: 734-971-9150 • Web: www.glc.org
Indiana • Illinois • Michigan • Minnesota • New York • Ohio • Ontario • Pennsylvania • Québec • Wisconsin