TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced a
revised schedule Friday for developing a plan to prevent Asian carp from
reaching the Great Lakes, but members of Congress said it falls short of a
deadline set by a recently enacted law.
The corps’ regional office in Chicago said it would release a report in late
2013 with options for blocking potential pathways between the lakes and the
Mississippi River basin for the voracious carp and other invasive species
that can disrupt ecosystems and cause huge economic losses.
It will include extensive information about each alternative, such as
engineering designs, cost estimates and assessments of how they would affect
the environment, said Jack Drolet, program manager for the Corps study.
But before any project could be carried out, the assistant secretary of the
Army would have to endorse it. The corps then would conduct additional
analyses, and Congress would have to authorize and fund the project. The
revised schedule has no timetable for those steps, or for beginning work on
any structures that might be built to seal off the two giant watersheds.
“We’re pursuing this very aggressively, using all the resources we can,”
The corps began its study in 2009, as alarm grew that bighead and silver
carp might reach the Great Lakes and out-compete native fish for food,
endangering a $7 billion fishing industry. They have infested the
Mississippi and many of its tributaries, including the Illinois River, which
flows toward Lake Michigan.
An electric barrier in a Chicago-area shipping canal is designed to halt
their advance. But scientists have detected their DNA beyond the barrier
within a few miles of the lake. Several independent studies have called for
building dams or other structures that would permanently separate the
drainage basin, a step sought by five states and an American Indian tribe in
a federal lawsuit. The Army Corps of Engineers says that’s among the options
it will consider.
Congress originally gave the corps until 2015 to finish its study. But a
bill enacted in June moved the deadline to January 2014. It was sponsored by
Republican Rep. Dave Camp and Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow, both of
They said Friday the corps’ new schedule wasn’t good enough.
“The Army Corps of Engineers’ refusal to follow the law and submit a
complete plan to stop Asian carp is completely unacceptable,” Stabenow said.
Camp said he would “hold the corps accountable for openly flouting the
direction given to it by Congress.”
Drolet said the corps was promising much more than it had earlier this year,
when it agreed to release a set of options by the end of 2013. Providing
engineering and cost data with each of the alternative measures will make
the report more useful, he said.
“Though the expedited time frame will be challenging, we will make the ....
report as comprehensive as possible,” he said.