Keep Asian carp out of Lake Michigan - Metropolitan Planning Council

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Keep Asian carp out of Lake Michigan

"Every new delay makes it more likely Asian carp will invade Lake Michigan," authored the Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board earlier this month. "Tick, tock," replied MPC Vice President Josh Ellis and Molly Flanagan, vice president for policy at the Alliance for the Great Lakes, in this co-authored Letter to the Editor. 

Chicago Sun-Times

A tow boat waits to pass upriver through the Brandon Road Locks after cutting its string of barges so the first half could fit into the lock.

This piece first appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times

The Pritzker administration is to be lauded for supporting solutions to stem the flow of Asian carp and other aquatic invasive species through our waterways. One of their first actions was to reverse misguided policy. The previous administration focused mostly on downstream fishing. They also delayed the progress of infrastructure projects that could simultaneously reduce the threat of invasive species and modernize shipping practices.

With new staff and a complex project at hand, requesting additional time makes sense. But the decision at hand — whether to use $2 million in state funding to match federal resources and initiate the next phase of the proposed project to modify the Brandon Road Lock and Dam — is an easy one.

As noted by the Sun-Times Editorial Board, it is now the Pritzker administration’s turn to delay, but in this case a brief delay is understandable (“Every new delay makes it more likely Asian carp will invade Lake Michigan“— March 10).

With new staff and a complex project at hand, requesting additional time makes sense. But the decision at hand — whether to use $2 million in state funding to match federal resources and initiate the next phase of the proposed project to modify the Brandon Road Lock and Dam — is an easy one.

The only way to address any concerns Illinois or others have is for the state to commit to be the nonfederal sponsor for the project and begin pre-construction, engineering, and design with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. This next phase will provide solid answers about budget, risk reduction, and other factors. We need Gov. Pritzker to sign on to the project within a month and advocate for the Corps to allocate federal funds to the project as soon as possible.

And the clock is ticking for more reasons than just the risk of Asian carp getting into Lake Michigan (which should be motivating enough). The Great Lakes Governors and Premiers are meeting in Milwaukee on June 14 for their biennial summit. Rather than facing tough questions on the logic of inaction, Gov. Pritzker has the chance to use that summit as a celebration of cooperation, action, and the newfound leadership of Illinois in protecting our Great Lakes.

Tick, tock.

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