Stopping Asian carp threat to Great Lakes could cost $18 billion, Army Corps says

By Agri-Pulse staff

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, Jan. 6, 2013 -- The Army Corps of Engineers released a report today outlining potential strategies to prevent Asian carp from entering into and damaging the Great Lakes ecosystem, with a price tag that could reach $18 billion.

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The report presents eight plans designed to prevent the transfer of invasive species between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins, without recommending any particular strategy. However, Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., expressed their disappointment that the report failed to include fully developed project plans and included only “conceptual-level details.”

The plans that would take the longest to complete - with an estimated 25-year timeline - are those that call for permanent structures to block the carp from entering the Great Lakes. They are also the most expensive, with costs ranging from $8 billion to $18 billion.

In 2012, President Obama signed Stabenow and Camp's bipartisan Stop Invasive Species Act, requiring the Army Corps to expedite the completion of today's report.

“While this report is a step in the right direction, it's time to move past reports and get moving on actual projects that will stop Asian carp,” Stabenow said in a conference call with reporters.

Camp asserted that the Corps “failed to fully develop a permanent solution to prevent Asian carp form destroying the Great Lakes."

The ultimate goal of the legislation passed last year is to permanently separate Lake Michigan from the Chicago Area Waterway System, where experts believe Asian carp could enter and cause irreparable harm to the Great Lakes. An Asian carp invasion into the Great Lakes could harm the region's $7 billion fishing industry and $16 billion boating industry, Stabenow said.

In November, 16 senators from states bordering the Great Lakes sent a letter to the Army Corps requesting that it continue its evaluation after this report so that a comprehensive solution can be found.  

Stabenow said the threat of an Asian carp invasion is increasing, despite efforts to block potential entryways. Last month a joint Army Corps and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service report showed that fish were moving through the electronic barrier in the Chicago Waterway. 

“We know electric barriers are not enough and that we need something permanent,” Stabenow said.

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