Following last week's Supreme Court decision not to force action on the Asian carp migration, Rep. Dave Camp of Michigan introduced legislation Wednesday to force Chicago to close locks, erect barriers, and take other emergency measures to prevent the spread of the invasive fish to Lake Michigan.
The Supreme Court decision came down on the same day as an Army Corps of Engineers announcement that carp DNA had been found in the lake. No specimen have yet been sighted there, but the DNA suggests that they are nearby.
Asian carp are an invasive fish species that grow quickly, reproduce in large numbers, and can quickly take over an ecosystem, the EPA warns. As such, many states in the Great Lakes region, including Wisconsin, Michigan and New York, are concerned that carp in the area could devastate indigenous fish species in the Lakes, and the multi-billion-dollar fishing industry they provide.
Camp's bill, HR 4472 ("Close All Routes and Prevent Asian Carp Today," or CARP ACT), would force Illinois to take the measures that the Supreme Court let it skip, particularly closing the locks that allow water from the Chicago River into Lake Michigan, and taking aggressive measures to "prevent the spread of Asian Carp through the use of fish toxicant, commercial fishing and netting, harvesting, and other means necessary."
The bill also contains language designed to minimize the commercial impact on Chicago and the rest of the state of Illinois, although state and local officials are unlikely to support the measures, as they predict that closing the locks will have a harshly deleterious impact on the shipping industry.