Proos: Federal inaction puts Great Lakes at risk

LANSING – Sen. John Proos said today that a recent ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court and inaction by the Obama Administration to help prevent Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes are endangering the lakes and the entire basin.

“This whole situation is appalling. Asian carp are at the threshold of Lake Michigan, and if allowed to invade the Great Lakes their impact will be permanent and catastrophic,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “Asian carp would cause billions of dollars in lost economic activity and wipe out thousands of Michigan jobs – with Southwest Michigan the first area affected.

“Unfortunately, the special interests of one community – joined by inaction by federal officials at nearly every level – are putting at risk the future of the Great Lakes and the livelihood of everyone in the region.”

Great Lakes commercial and recreational ?shing is a $7 billion industry, and the recreational boating industry in the state is worth $9 billion. Asian carp are voracious feeders, eating vast amounts of plants and animals at the base of the food chain. The large fish are also known for jumping out of the water when disturbed by watercraft.

“In addition to ravaging a vibrant fishing industry, the Asian carp would also decimate our Southwest Michigan tourism and boating industries – costing us jobs and endangering our way of life,” Proos said. “Wait-and-hope is not a solution. We do not have the luxury of time. By the point federal bureaucrats finish a study in 2015 on what to do, it may already be too late.

“I sponsored a resolution last year urging decisive congressional action to prevent a disaster. I once again implore Congress to close the locks until a long-term solution can be identified. The risk of inaction is too great.”

Senate Concurrent Resolution 18 passed on Sept. 13, 2011 and advocated the immediate closure of the O’Brien Lock and Dam in the Chicago Waterway System until federal legislation to prevent the migration of Asian carp into Lake Michigan is enacted.