Durbin Pushes for Release of Plan to Keep Asian Carp Out of Great Lakes

A silver carp was captured last month in the Illinois Waterway below the T.J. O’Brien Lock and Dam, about 9 miles from Lake Michigan. (Courtesy of Illinois Department of Natural Resources)A silver carp was captured last month in the Illinois Waterway below the T.J. O’Brien Lock and Dam, about 9 miles from Lake Michigan. (Courtesy of Illinois Department of Natural Resources)

An energy and water spending package approved Thursday by the Senate Appropriations Committee includes a provision that would force the Trump administration to release a plan for keeping Asian carp from reaching the Great Lakes.

The provision, offered by U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., requires the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to release its plan to fortify the barrier against Asian carp at a key spot along the carp’s path toward Lake Michigan. Referred to as the Brandon Road Study, the plan was scheduled to be released Feb. 28 but has been stalled by the Trump administration.

The development comes a month after a live Asian carp was caught in a Chicago waterway about 9 miles from Lake Michigan, beyond an electric barrier designed to keep the invasive fish from reaching the Great Lakes. It was only the second time a bighead or silver carp has been found beyond electric dispersal barriers in the past eight years, according to the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee.

“It is imperative that the Trump Administration release the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ draft proposal to prevent Asian carp from reaching and severely harming the Great Lakes,” Durbin said in a press release. “I remain concerned by what I understand to be a White House decision to delay and potentially modify this report that has been under development for years.”

There are several species of Asian carp threatening to invade the Great Lakes. If they do, the fish could have a devastating effect on the marine food chain and the region’s fishing industry.

In April, Durbin and nine other Democratic senators sent a letter to President Donald Trump and White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney requesting that the administration release the Army Corps draft proposal to prevent Asian carp from reaching the Great Lakes.

The senators have yet to receive a response to the letter, according to Durbin’s office.

If the $38.4 billion energy and water bill containing Durbin’s provision is passed by the full Senate, it would require the Army Corps to release the plan within 30 days.

Follow Alex Ruppenthal on Twitter: @arupp


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