Illinois Senator Dick Durbin spoke in Chicago on Friday afternoon to address the ongoing Asian carp issue, stating that the capture of a live Asian Carp beyond all locks and barriers to Lake Michigan is a "game changer" and a "wake up alarm" requiringâ¨ focused, aggressive action to permanently solve the problem. In response to the new development, Durbin announced that he and Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow would co-sponsor legislation to expedite a permanent solution to the problem. Durbin, Stabenow, and other Senators are also calling on President Barack Obama â¨to appoint a federal incident commander to oversee the federal government’s efforts to prevent the invasive fish from establishing a breeding population in Lake Michigan.
This positive action from Senators Durbin and Stabenow is exactly what is needed right now to meet the Asian Carp crisis. In calling for expedited review of the permanent separation of the Great Lakes from the Mississippi River, the Senators' bill could be the shot of adrenaline that finally moves us into developing a real solution---something that has been lost in the counterproductive back and forth over lock closures, which nobody has put forth as a permanent solution, just one of the many temporary emergency tools that could be used to slow the fish’s advance.
With the ghastliness of the Gulf in the background, we see the reality of the alarm bell sounded by Asian carp. The Great Lakes are yet another major American watershed that is at risk from failed and dangerous infrastructure. Here, the activities of federal agencies need strong direction and focus if we are going to stop the invasive fish’s advance. The Senators' call to the President to appoint a Federal Incident Commander to coordinate immediate and long-term federal response to the threat of invasive species in the Great Lakes is, sadly, exactly what is required. It has been frustrating to see the log jam of uncertainty, confusion, and bureaucratic malaise that has, until now, marked the governmental response to the Asian Carp threat.
Both the hydrological-separation focus of the Senators' bill and the appointment of a federal incident commander might just be the leadership we have sorely needed to prevent the slow-motion carp catastrophe in the region that was starting to look imminent.
Image courtesy Illinois DNR via AsianCarp.org