The senators today urged the Army Corps to identify specific measures needed to keep invasive species out of the Great Lakes
This month, Klobuchar’s provision, cosponsored by Franken, to help fight the spread of Asian carp in Minnesota’s waterways by closing the Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock within a year passed the House water infrastructure bill
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, along with a bipartisan group of 14 other senators, today called on the Army Corps of Engineers to expedite efforts to stop the spread of Asian carp in the Great Lakes. In a letter to Assistant Secretary of the Army Jo-Ellen Darcy, the senators urged the Army Corps to identify the specific measures needed to cut off Asian carp entry points into the Great Lakes.
“It is our expectation that the Corps will work with Congress, our staff, and regional stakeholders before and after the report is issued so that we can expeditiously determine how to best move forward with a comprehensive approach to address Asian Carp and other aquatic invasive species,” the letter said. “We ask you to identify how you intend to work with stakeholders on a comprehensive alternative that will maintain commerce, enhance and not degrade water quality, and permanently safeguard the Great Lakes from Asian carp.”
This month, Klobuchar’s provision to help fight the spread of Asian carp in Minnesota’s waterways by closing the Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock within a year, which was cosponsored by Sen. Franken, passed the House of Representatives. It is now included in both the Senate and House water infrastructure bills, which will go to conference committee before final passage.
Klobuchar and Franken have worked with members of both parties on legislative efforts to stop Asian carp from wreaking havoc on the Great Lakes' ecosystem. Last year Klobuchar and Franken helped pass the bipartisan Stop Invasive Species Act, which President Obama signed into law. The law requires the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to present Congress, by the end of the year, with a report (known as the GLMRIS report) on potential strategies to help prevent Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes. Today’s bipartisan letter requests that the Corps make clear the steps it will take once that report is submitted to determine the best course of action.
The full text of the letter and list of cosigners is below:
November 6, 2013
The Honorable Jo-Ellen Darcy
Assistant Secretary of the Army
Department of the Army, Civil Works
108 Army Pentagon
Washington, DC 20310
Dear Assistant Secretary Darcy:
We are pleased that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, as a part of the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee, is continuing to implement and explore strategies that address the potential transfer of Asian carp and other aquatic invasive species (AIS) between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins. In addition to continuing this work, it is imperative that the Corps work with Congress on developing a plan that will provide long term, sustainable protection for the Great Lakes from the spread of nonindigenous aquatic species, which threaten our region’s environment, fishing and boating industries, and overall economy.
The Water Resources Development Act of 2007 tasked the Corps, in consultation with a variety of other federal and state agencies, to conduct a feasibility study that evaluates alternatives and technologies that could be used to prevent the transfer of nonindigenous aquatic species between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins through a variety of pathways. A final version of this study, known as the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study (GLMRIS), is due to Congress in January 2014.
It is our understanding that this report will provide a set of alternatives for Congress to assess but will not include a formal recommendation of which alternative would be most effective in preventing species, like Asian carp, from transferring between the two basins in the long term. It is our expectation that the Corps will work with Congress, our staff, and regional stakeholders before and after the report is issued so that we can expeditiously determine how to best move forward with a comprehensive approach to address Asian Carp and other aquatic invasive species.
We ask you to identify how you intend to work with stakeholders on a comprehensive alternative that will maintain commerce, enhance and not degrade water quality, and permanently safeguard the Great Lakes from Asian carp and other invasive species following the release of the GLMRIS report. Please explain what decisions and authorizations will be necessary to allow for implementation of a comprehensive approach to address invasive species. We also ask you to describe measures that have been taken to date and identify interim measures that can be put into place to greatly reduce the risk of invasive species moving between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins. Upon release of the GLMRIS report, it is imperative that the Corps continue its evaluation process under existing authority so that we can move very quickly on a comprehensive approach to best protect the environmental and economic health of the Great Lakes and Mississippi River.
Protecting the Great Lakes from harmful aquatic species is a shared responsibility of Congress, the Corps, other federal agencies, the affected states, and relevant local agencies. We are committed to working with you and to quickly identify a long-term approach to a problem that could have devastating effects on our region’s economy, environment, and way of life.
We look forward to your positive response.