AGs from PA, Michigan and Minnesota Ask Army Corps to Close Lock to Prevent Harm to Ecosystem of Great Lakes Region
Harrisburg — Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro and the Attorneys General of Michigan and Minnesota today called on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to change plans for an expensive lock redesign and instead close a major lock now to keep the invasive Asian carp species from entering the Great Lakes, including Lake Erie, potentially causing widespread harm to its ecosystem and economy.
In a bipartisan joint letter to the Army Corps, the three Attorneys General asked the Corps to rethink its Brandon Road Plan, which would retrofit the Brandon Road Lock and Dam in Illinois with technologies intended to deter the movement of Asian carp.
“Asian carp present a real danger to the ecological balance of the Great Lakes, including Lake Erie,” Attorney General Josh Shapiro said. “This invasive species consumes a large amount of plankton, which native species depend on as a food supply, and can severely damage the ecosystem if it continues to spread. My colleague Attorneys General and I are asking the Army Corps to change their plans and act now to the Great Lakes from being overtaken by Asian carp.”
In their letter to the Army Corps, the Attorneys General emphasize that the Corps’ own analysis showed closing the Brandon Road Lock is the most effective, reliable option to stopping the spread of Asian carp to the Great Lakes. The Lock Closure Alternative supported by the Attorneys General is estimated to cost $5.9 million — compared to $275.3 million to implement the carp-deterrence technologies favored by the Corps.
“We urge the Corps to select and implement what the draft report itself identifies as the most effective option – closing the Brandon Road Lock,” said the Attorneys General in the letter.
“As the chief legal officers of our respective states, we share a strong, common interest in protecting the unique resources of the Great Lakes and their connected waters from the continuing threat that Asian carp present in the Illinois Waterway will invade and become established in the Great Lakes, causing grave ecological and economic harm,” the Attorneys General wrote, explaining their legal basis for becoming involved in the Asian carp issue.
The Attorneys General letter challenged the Army Corps draft report’s conclusion that its estimated “lost transportation cost savings” should rule out the Lock Closure Alternative.
The letter pointed to a report prepared for the State of Michigan by transportation experts that concludes the Corps’ estimates are grossly overstated, and that increased transportation costs would be hundreds of millions less than the Corps’ report suggests. The letter criticizes the draft report for failing to balance such increased transportation costs against the far greater ecological and economic harm the public will suffer if Asian carp invade the Great Lakes.
“If Asian carp reach the Great Lakes, including Lake Erie, it will cause major ecological and economic harm,” Attorney General Shapiro said. “Great Lakes sport fishing alone has an annual value in the billions of dollars. That is at risk if Asian carp invade and become established. For the benefit of the Great Lakes’ economy and environment, the Army Corps should reconsider its decision and implement the most effective, most affordable way to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes.”
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro was joined in signing the letter by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette and Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson.
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