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mxz_chris
02-16-2010, 11:32 AM
I got this response back from Senator Feingold in WI. While I don't usually agree with the Senator, I was encouraged that I got a response, and he seems to be on our side.

Thank you for contacting me regarding Asian carp and the threat of this invasive species to the Great Lakes. I appreciate hearing from you on this important issue, and I agree with you. The Great Lakes are an invaluable economic, environmental, and recreational resource for Wisconsin, the Midwest, and the entire nation.

As you know, Asian carp are an invasive species that were originally brought to the U.S. from China by aquaculturists in 1972. Since that time, four Asian carp species (bighead, black, grass, and silver) have evaded confinement and have been invading the Mississippi River. Asian carp have been traveling toward Lake Michigan via the man-made Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal (CSSC), which connects the Mississippi River basin to Lake Michigan. Recent sampling has found Bighead and silver carp DNA near the entrance to Lake Michigan from the Calumet River. Carp can weigh up to 100 lbs and consume up to 40 percent of their body weight in plankton in one day. Their presence in the Great Lakes could have a devastating effect on ecosystems, which would negatively impact Wisconsin's fishing, tourism, and recreation industries.

You might be interested to know that I am a cosponsor of S. 2946, the Close All Routes and Prevent Asian Carp Today Act of 2010, which was introduced by Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) on January 21, 2010. This bill would direct the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) to take a number of actions to prevent the spread of the Asian carp into the Great Lakes. These actions include the immediate closing of locks at the O'Brien Lock and Dam and the Chicago Controlling Works until a strategy relating to controlled lock operations is developed. S. 2946 has been referred to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. I will continue to monitor this situation and push for efforts to protect our Great Lakes from the threat of invasive species.

As you may also know, the Water Resources Development Act of 2007 authorized the Corps to complete the construction of a permanent electric dispersal barrier (Barrier IIa), to prevent Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes via the CSSC. The Consolidated Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2008 provided sufficient funding for the construction and operation of this barrier. The barrier is authorized to operate at four volts per inch. In April 2009, Barrier IIa was turned on at one volt per inch. Due to concerns that Asian carp DNA was found within one mile of the barrier, the Corps increased the voltage of the barrier to 2 volts per inch in August 2009. According to the Corps, 2 volts per inch is sufficient to deter all sizes of Asian carp.

The Corps has also expressed concerns that Asian carp are present in the Des Plaines River upstream of the barrier. Should the river flood - which it is prone to do - the floodwater could carry Asian carp into the CSSC. Asian carp could also bypass the barrier through the Illinois and Michigan Canal. H.R. 3183, the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for 2010, includes authorization for the Corps to take action to prevent the bypass of the dispersal barrier. Within a year, the Corps is required to implement measures recommended by an efficacy study, or provided in interim reports, to prevent Asian carp from bypassing the CSSC. The final version of H.R. 3183 passed the Senate with my support on October 14, 2009. President Obama signed it into law on October 28, 2009. For more information and updates on efforts to prevent Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes, I encourage you visit http://www.lrc.usace.army.mil/. I hope you find this information helpful.

I was pleased that on December 14, 2009, the Environmental Protection Agency announced that $13 million, from the recently approved $475 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, will be used for immediate Asian carp control measures. These measures will include closing conduits and shoring up low-lying lands between the CSSC and adjacent waterways.

Thank you again for contacting me. For more information about my work on behalf of Wisconsin, you can subscribe to my monthly e-newsletter by visiting http://feingold.senate.gov/newsletter.cfm. I look forward to hearing from you in the future.

fgsacts
02-16-2010, 01:50 PM
This is a complicated issue. Closing the shipping canal would also have dramatic economic impact.

mxz_chris
02-16-2010, 03:11 PM
I just read a study that the loss in revenue is .013% of Chicago's total revenue, and any shipping jobs lost would be made up for in increased shipping jobs. Conversely, many of the Great Lakes border towns, as well as commercial fisheries would be devastated. I think I'd pay a little more for road salt and Gypsum to save an entire ecosystem. These products are trucked from the shore once they are delivered, they would just be off loaded a couple miles further away. Seems a small price to pay.