Durbin Statement on Asian Carp Management Study

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] - U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today released the following statement after reviewing an Army Corps of Engineers report examining several options for containing invasive species, including Asian Carp, in the Great Lakes.  Durbin joined U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Carl Levin (D-MI) and other Great Lakes Senators in requesting and authorizing the report entitled the Great Lakes & Mississippi River Interbasin Study.


“This study tells us that while we have been successful to date in warding off the invasion of Asian Carp, the pathways for Asian Carp and other invasive species to enter the Great Lakes are increasing,” said Durbin.  “Though popular with some, complete separation of the Mississippi River and Lake Michigan would be one of the most costly water projects in the nation.  I have seen too many of these long-term Corps projects languish for years and fall victim to Congressional inaction.  We can’t gamble with the threat of Asian Carp invading the Great Lakes or risk severe flood damage to the Chicago Metropolitan area by pursuing a risky plan at the expense of our current efforts.  I look forward to hearing public comments and input that seriously consider some of the more practical medium and long-term alternatives presented in today’s report.”

Senator Durbin has long been advocating for a more comprehensive approach to preventing the Asian Carp from reaching the Great Lakes. 

In December 2009 letters, Durbin urged leaders in the effort to prevent the Asian Carp from entering the Great Lakes to work together to establish and convey to Congress a long-term, comprehensive Asian carp eradication plan.  Identical letters were sent to the Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 


Shortly afterward, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife service worked through a collaborative process with multiple state and federal partners, non-governmental organizations, representatives of industry and academia and other stakeholders to create the Management and Control Plan for Asian carp.  Durbin has led efforts in the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee to adequately fund the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s plan.


In January 2010, he and U.S. Representative Judy Biggert (R-IL) called a bipartisan, bicameral meeting to discuss a path forward in the effort to contain Asian carp in Illinois. 


In a June 2010 letter, Durbin asked President Obama to appoint a director for the effort to control the spread of Asian Carp.  Shortly afterward, in September, John Goss was appointed head of the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee which is made up of the U.S. EPA, the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. ACE, the U.S. Geological Survey and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.  Other participating agencies and organizations include the Great Lakes Fisheries Commission, the City of Chicago and the Metropolitan Waste Reclamation District of Greater Chicago.


In 2003, Durbin began working with Biggert and the Army Corps of Engineers to authorize and fund three Aquatic Nuisance Species Dispersal Barriers along the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal whose 100% federally funded cost was estimated at $99 million.  Since 2009, =Durbin has worked with the Obama Administration to secure funding $1.37 billion the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.  These funds have been used for invasive species control, including $37.9 million for Asian Carp prevention activities in FY2010. In 2011, he successfully fought House Republican attempts to cut Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding in FY 2011 by $250 million.