Army Corps to release long-delayed Asian carp plan

Melissa Nann Burke
Detroit News Washington Bureau

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Friday said it will release on Aug. 7 its long-delayed plan for keeping Asian carp out of the Great Lakes.

The draft study has been stalled for five months since the cancellation of its planned release Feb. 28 after concerns were raised by the commercial barge industry with the Trump administration.

The report is expected to recommend measures for fighting the invasive species at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam near Joliet, Illinois.

The Army Corps on Friday announced the new release date in an email to congressional offices, saying the report had been completed as part of the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study.

The decision comes after the Army Corps last week denied an open-records request by The Detroit News for a copy of the report.

The agency claimed the document was exempt from the Freedom of Information Act, citing “deliberative privilege.”

An Army Corps official said the study was undergoing “further review and coordination regarding the range of diverse ecosystems and national economic considerations potentially impacted by study outcomes.”

Aides to President Donald Trump had told lawmakers they wanted the next head of the Army Corps to take office before releasing the study, but members of Congress from Great Lakes states pushed back.

In June, lawmakers introduced bipartisan legislation in both the House and Senate to force the administration to release the long-awaited report.

Mich. Congressman Bill Huizenga, who serves as co-chair of the House Great Lakes Task Force, said in a statement he was looking forward to the report's release.

"This assessment will provide critical information on how to best prevent Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes ecosystem. Republicans and Democrats have worked in a bipartisan manner to get the administration to release this document," he said in the statement. "While the scheduled release of the Brandon Road Study is an important and positive step, it is my hope that we can continue to build upon this bipartisan foundation to enact policies that will protect the Great Lakes.”

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. Possible measures could include construction of an engineered channel, an electric barrier, water-propulsion jets and noise cannons.

The Corps plan to accept public comments on the Brandon Road report until Sept. 21.