Biggert says closing waterway locks to Asian carp 'not the answer'
Written by Chicago Tribune   
Thursday, 11 February 2010 21:05
U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert (R-Hinsdale) today shot back at Michigan officials and others fighting to close Chicago-area navigational locks to prevent movement of Asian carp, saying politics is behind the "misguided" effort to restrict boat traffic in local waterways.

At an afternoon news conference in Chicago, Biggert said, "The 'act now - think later' mentality that they represent are so misguided that they can only suggest that politics -- and not science and sound policy -- are ruling the day. For those of us who have been toiling in the fields for years to keep the Asian carp at bay, this new-found interest in emergency action is suspect at best."

Meeting with U.S. Rep. Debbie Halvorson (D-Crete), as well as leaders from Illinois' Chamber of Commerce and representatives from the state's boating and shipping industry, Biggert said, "Of course we all are working to protect the Great Lakes ecosystem. The right way is not a knee-jerk legal or legislative action that ignores peoples' lives and livelihoods for what sounds simple yet is an alarmingly ineffective solution."

Biggert said efforts to close the locks, as Michigan's Attorney General has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to do, would raise the risk of flooding and could actually increase the risk of Asian carp entering the Great Lakes.

"Closing the locks would overwhelm that tunnel system and cause massive flooding, affecting more than 3 million people and 1.4 million structures in Chicago and 51 surrounding suburbs," Biggert said. "If the locks were to remain closed, as litigation and proposed legislation would call for, excess flood water could no longer be released into Lake Michigan and could flow over the top of the lock - creating more avenues for carp to migrate into the lake - just as flooding in the South allowed them to enter the Mississippi River to start with."

Biggert renewed calls for more carp monitoring and stepping up efforts to control its movement through netting, electrofishing and the completion of a third underwater electric barrier near Romeoville. That barrier, paid for with federal stimulus funds, is scheduled to be completed in October.

"... I will not allow those who harbor an 'act now, think later' approach to solving this problem flood our basements and kill our jobs for a quick fix that won't work," Biggert said. "Closing our locks and dams is not the answer."

 
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