Critics say that framework lacks urgency and does not call for immediate closure of the O’Brien Lock and Dam in the Calumet-Sag Channel and the Chicago Controlling Works in the Illinois River – two potential entry points into Lake Michigan for Asian carp that have been migrating upstream from the Mississippi River for decades.
The federal plan, supported by Illinois lawmakers and Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, notes that closing the locks would harm the barge industry. About 14.6 million tons of the Chicago region’s petroleum, coal, road shale, cement, and iron travel through the locks. Business through the shipping channels is worth $30 million a year, according to the American Waterways Operators (AWO), a trade association representing the tugboat, towboat, and barge industry.
Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox said the discovery this week confirmed “our worst fears.” Previously, Asian carp DNA had been found in the vicinity of Lake Michigan, but this is the first live fish to be found in such close proximity.
“Responsibility for this potential economic and ecological disaster rests solely with President Obama. He must take action immediately by ordering the locks closed and producing an emergency plan to stop Asian carp from entering Lake Michigan,” Mr. Cox said in a statement. He announced that his office is working on another legal action to try to close the locks.
Discovery of the fish also alarmed environmental groups.