ILNews

Indiana joins Asian carp lawsuit

IL Staff
February 22, 2010
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The Indiana Attorney General is joining in the legal dispute over Asian carp in Lake Michigan. Attorney General Greg Zoeller filed an amicus brief on Friday in the lawsuit with the United States Supreme Court in Michigan's lawsuit against Illinois and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Zoeller's 26-page brief sides with Michigan, which filed the suit in December to require Illinois and the Corps of Engineers to try to prevent Asian carp from migrating from Illinois waterways into Lake Michigan. The carp have been detected within a few miles of the lake.

The U.S. Supreme Court denied Michigan's request for a preliminary injunction, but the underlying issue of the state's request for a court order for closure of the locks linking the waterways with Lake Michigan is still alive. Zoeller's brief urges the U.S. Supreme Court to reopen the original case so that every state's interests can be resolved.

Asian carp - also known as bighead carp and silver carp - aren't native to the area and compete for food sources with native fish and are known to hurl themselves out of the water, possibly injuring boaters. Zoeller said Indiana is impacted because the state's 40 miles of southern Lake Michigan shoreline are the first part of the lake to thaw in the spring and that area's fish could be decimated by an Asian carp invasion. Also, sport fishing on Lake Michigan brings in nearly $5 million to Indiana.

Zoeller doesn't endorse Michigan's suggestion of closing the locks and canals to block the carp because it would impact Indiana's commerce that relies on barge shipping. He wants the nation's highest court to exercise its original jurisdiction in state-v.-state issues and appoint a special master to hear evidence quickly but methodically to make a recommendation on the proper remedy to stop the nuisance.

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