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Van Hollen Sues to Protect Great Lakes - Van Hollen's Action Seeks Immediate Barrier, Block and Poison to Stop Carp

 

Van Hollen's Action Seeks Immediate

BARRIER, BLOCK and POISON
To Stop Carp

 

MADISON - Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announced today that the Wisconsin Department of Justice, on behalf of the State of Wisconsin has filed a Complaint for Injunctive and Declaratory Relief in the United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois against the United States Army Corps of Engineers and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago.   Wisconsin joins Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Pennsylvania to combat the threat.

 

"I am suing to protect the Great Lakes and to protect the Wisconsin jobs that depend on the health of the Great Lakes. The introduction of Asian Carp into Lake Michigan will irreversibly damage this important resource. The time for action is now," said Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen.

 

This complaint asks the federal district court to enter an injunction to use all available measures, consistent with the protection of public health and safety, to prevent the migration of big head and silver carp (Asian carp) through the Chicago Area Waterway System into Lake Michigan.

 

The complaint requests that the court order the Army Corps and the Reclamation District take the following actions:  1) block the passage of, capture, or kill big head or silver carp that may already be present in the Chicago Area Waterway System in areas north of the O'Brien Lock and Dam; 2) immediately install nets and other suitable temporary physical barriers to fish passage at strategic locations in the Calumet River; 3) immediately apply fish poison to all locations in the Chicago Area Waterway System where big head or silver carp have been observed or their eDNA have been detected; 4) temporarily close and cease operation of the locks at the O'Brien Lock and Dam and the Chicago River Controlling Works except as needed to protect public health and safety; 5) temporarily close the Sluice Gates at the O'Brien Lock and Dam, the Chicago controlling works, and the Wilmette Pumping Station except as needed to protect public health or safety; 6) immediately install grates or screens over the openings of certain gates; and 7) immediately install nets or other physical barriers to fish passage as needed in the Calumet River.  Finally, but not least important, the complaint demands that the Corps expedite a feasibility study developing and evaluating options for the permanent physical separation of the Chicago Area Waterway System from Lake Michigan so as to prevent the transfer of Asian carp or other invasive species between the Mississippi River Basin and the Great Lakes Basin.

 

On December, 16, 2009, the Wisconsin State Assembly adopted a resolution (2009 Assembly Resolution 16) pursuant to Wis. Stat.  165.25(1m) that authorized Attorney General Van Hollen "to vigorously pursue every legal means available to prevent Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes."  Today's action, taken pursuant to that authority, is part of Attorney General Van Hollen's continuing legal efforts to stop this invasive species from damaging the Great Lakes environment and Wisconsin's economy.

 

Earlier this year, Attorney General Van Hollen, on behalf of the State of Wisconsin, collaborated with other Great Lakes states to move the United States Supreme Court to re-open a decades-old case that involved the Great Lakes and adjacent waterway systems.  The states asked the United States Supreme Court to issue injunctive relief that would prevent Asian carp from invading Lake Michigan.  The U.S. Supreme Court denied the request on April 26, 2010, but its order did not foreclose today's action. 

 

Since the Supreme Court's denial, additional eDNA evidence suggests that the Asian carp are moving closer to Lake Michigan.  The complaint filed today alleges that the defendants, through their inaction regarding protecting the lakes from the invasive Asian carp, are unreasonably interfering with a right common to the general public.  In addition, the complaint requests judicial review of an unlawful agency action under the federal Administrative Procedure Act.

 

A copy of the complaint is available at:

 

2010 file: