Donald Trump administration delays release of US Army Engineers’ plan in battle against invading carp

    By Engbretson, Eric [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

    Plan addresses Illinois ‘choke point’ to keep Asian carp out of Lake Michigan

    LAKES HURON-MICHIGAN—It appears the Trump administration has caused a significant delay in the release of a plan by the US Army Corps of Engineers that was to list ways to stop the invasive Asian carp from moving north and into the Great Lakes.

    The plan was to focus on the Brandon Road Lock and Dam, located near Joliet, Illinois on the Des Plaines River, an article from the Detroit Free Press reports. The newspaper also reports that the plan, which was to be released at the end of February, was ordered to withhold the information until the White House could review it, even though the plan had been underway for several years and still had a public comment period to go through following the announcement of the plan.

    The release of the Army Corps of Engineers’ plan had also been panned by some shipping companies, Illinois state officials and Illinois Lieutenant Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti, who also requested a delay.

    Not all politicians urged the delay, however, with a number of Great Lakes Congresspeople calling for measures to be carried out at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam, which has been described as a “key choke point” between the river and Lake Michigan, and the rest of the Great Lakes.

    One of those members of Congress is the Democratic US Senator for Michigan Debbie Stabenow, who, along with fellow Michigan Senator Gary Peters, also a Democrat, called for the issuance of the plan.

    “It’s extremely alarming that it appears the Trump administration has decided to delay the release of today’s plan, which is a critical part of our efforts to stop Asian carp and other invasive species from reaching our Great Lakes,” Senator Stabenow told  mlive.com, a Michigan local news website. “After a lengthy review process, which included extensive outreach and collaboration with a broad range of stakeholders, it seems that the administration has decided to side with a narrow group of special interests intent on preventing actions to address the movement of Asian carp toward Lake Michigan.”

    It has been suggested that the plan was to include an engineered channel, another electric barrier (one is already in place), water jets and noise cannons and a flushing lock system, which would be the first of its kind. The plan was expected to cost as much $270 million to build and $10 million to maintain, mlive.com reports.

    The senator also called on the Trump administration to “fully explain the rationale for this delay and to provide a date for when this plan will be released.”

    The Expositor did reach out to Senator Stabenow’s office to request an interview, but did not hear back from her by press time Monday.

    Jim Nies, of Whitewater, Wisconsin and in the summer, Kagawong, expressed his disappointment to The Expositor at his country’s new government taking such an action.

    “Asian carp pose a serious threat to the Great Lakes’ ecosystems and economy, including the $7 billion fishing industry,” Mr. Nies said. “Existing barriers are not effective against juvenile fish, and larvae have been found less than 50 miles from Lake Michigan. Stopping their progress is an urgent imperative.”

    “The plan for the Brandon Road Lock and Dam near Joliet, Ill., was set to be released by the US Army Corps of Engineers, an important step toward finalizing a project that was expected to call for barriers at a key choke-point on a Chicago-area river,” Mr. Nies continued. “But this plan has now been put on hold by the Trump administration.”

    “The reason for the stoppage is resistance by corporate interests in the Joliet, Illinois, area, assisted by their anti-environmental right wing Republican allies,” he said bluntly. “The damage done to the Great Lakes by Asian carp will be minimal in Illinois, but will be devastating in other states, and especially bad for Ontario. I’ve called my (Wisconsin) senators and US House representative. Both Republican senator Ron Johnson and congressman Jim Sensenbrenner have given me the pro forma response, but it is obvious from their previous statements and actions that they don’t really give a damn about the dam, the fish, the environment, or the people they are supposed to represent. Democratic senator Tammy Baldwin will try to help but is outnumbered.”

    “I see this not just as a possible invasion by a murderous fish but an actual attack on the livelihood and quality of life of the people of Canada,” Mr. Nies supplied. “I think the government of Canada should vociferously object to the delay, and likely suspension, of the plan to stop Asian carp.”