Minnesota and Ohio joined Michigan in its lawsuit to close an Illinois canal connecting a tributary of the Mississippi River to Lake Michigan. The states say the invasion of Asian carp through the canal could destroy the Great Lakes ecosystem.
Nerissa Michaels/Illinois River Biological Station/Detroit Free Press/AP
Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson announced her state’s involvement in the lawsuit on Monday after judging that the presence of the Asian Carp along the state’s 149-mile shoreline on Lake Superior would directly threaten the state’s commercial and recreational fishing industries, which together generate $2.7 billion.
“We pride ourselves on outdoor recreation; we call ourselves ‘The Land of 10,000 Lakes’,” she said in a phone interview. “We do think it is a public emergency.”
The total revenue from fishing and tourism on the Great Lakes amounts to $7 billion.
Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox’s lawsuit last week asked the US Supreme Court to order Illinois state agencies and the US Army Corps of Engineers to close the O’Brien Lock and Dam and Chicago Controlling Works, two critical junctions of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. The historic waterway was built in the 1920s to divert sewage away from Chicago and to provide a commerce route between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River.
Linking river traffic to Lake Michigan resulted in booming commerce for the Midwest, resulting in $30 million in annual revenue, according to the American Waterways Operators (AWO), a trade association representing the tugboat, towboat, and barge industry.