WASHINGTON, D.C. – After receiving notice from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that a power outage caused a failure of electric dispersal barriers on May 2nd, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today renewed his call for permanent hydrological separation of Lake Erie from the Mississippi River to prevent invasive species, including Asian carp, from reaching Lake Erie. Brown is a cosponsor of bipartisan legislation, the Stop Invasive Species Act, which would require the accelerated completion of an action plan to block Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes through a number of rivers and tributaries across the Great Lakes region.
“The breakdown of the dispersal barrier on Wednesday is a reminder that Lake Erie—and its multimillion dollar boating and fishing industries— is under constant threat from an Asian carp invasion. Should this species make its way into Lake Erie, the damage would be tremendous—and irreversible,” Brown said. “We cannot afford to delay action to protect our lake, our fisheries, and the thousands of Ohioans that rely on Lake Erie to make a living. That’s why we must move aggressively and quickly to protect our Lake, including, if necessary, hydrologically separating the Lakes from the Mississippi River.”
During committee consideration of the Energy and Water Appropriations bill last month, Brown introduced and the Committee passed an amendment—based upon the Stop Invasive Species Act—to help combat a possible invasion of Asian carp into Lake Erie and the other Great Lakes. Since late 2009, the Army Corps of Engineers has been working on a study of the Great Lakes and Mississippi Interbasin “to evaluate options and technologies to prevent the spread of aquatic nuisance species between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River.” Recently, the Corps indicated this study may not be completed until March 2016. The amendment ensures that the Corps finishes this study no later than July 1, 2014, and ensures that the Corps is fully examining the feasibility of all options, including permanent hydrological separation.
Last month, Brown joined a group of bipartisan senators to introduce legislation, the Stop Invasive Species Act. The legislation would require the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to submit to Congress an expedited action plan with options for stopping Asian carp from penetrating the Great Lakes across 18 possible points of entry. The bill requires the Army Corps to submit a progress report to Congress and the President within 90 days of the law’s enactment, and the full plan would need to be completed within 18 months. Under the Stop Invasive Species Act, the Army Corps would continue to examine modes of transportation across key waterways to ensure shipping could continue while mechanisms for preventing Asian carp from destroying the Great Lakes are implemented. The bill is supported by the Great Lakes Commission, The Great Lakes Fishery Commission, Alliance for the Great Lakes, Healing our Waters Coalition, National Wildlife Federation and Trout Unlimited.