Washington — The Michigan congressional delegation on Wednesday wrote to President Donald Trump urging him to “immediately” release a stalled report recommending ways to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes.
Nearly four months ago, the draft study for fighting the invasive species at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam near Joliet, Illinois, was held up by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at the direction of the Trump administration on the eve of its planned Feb. 28 release after concerns were raised by the commercial barge industry.
The letter, led by U.S. Reps. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, and Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn, and signed by all 14 House members from Michigan, says that further delay of the study “will only increase the likelihood of a full-scale, irreversible inundation of this highly destructive invasive species.”
They highlighted last week’s discovery of a live silver carp less than 10 miles from Lake Michigan — the first time since 2010 a live Asian carp was found beyond the electric barrier network meant to prevent it from reaching the freshwater lakes.
“The release of the Brandon Road Lock and Dam evaluation is an essential next step to ensure we safeguard our region’s $7 billion fishing industry, $16 billion boating industry, and $18 billion hunting and wildlife observation industry,” the lawmakers wrote.
“Our efforts will not stop until the Asian carp threat is stopped once and for all. We ask you to release the critical study immediately, with strong bipartisan report.”
Trump aides have told members they want the next head of the Army Corps to take office before releasing the study, but lawmakers aren’t willing to wait that long.
Last week, they introduced bipartisan legislation in both the House and Senate that would force the administration to release the long-awaited report.
Some officials in Illinois and Indiana are concerned that structural changes at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam would disrupt the commercial barge industry moving goods along the Illinois River.
A group of 16 GOP House members mostly from Illinois and Indiana wrote to Trump in February asking him to hold off on releasing the report. They said efforts to keep Asian carp moving upriver have worked, and the Corps should not "hastily" recommend construction projects that could affect waterway navigation and the safety of towboat crews.
The Army Corps study was undertaken two years ago, costing an estimated $8 million. It examines the potential environmental effects of recommended measures for preventing Asian carp from traveling beyond Brandon Road that could include construction of an engineered channel, an electric barrier, water-propulsion jets and noise cannons.