Washington, DC- Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) announced that he has sent a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) urging the agency to expedite the development of plan to combat Asian Carp in the Great Lakes. In a letter that was joined by 15 other senators, Casey urged the Army Corps to swiftly develop and implement a comprehensive plan to combat Asian Carp when the Corps releases its feasibility study on the transfer of invasive aquatic species between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins in January 2014.
“Combatting Asian Carp is important to Northwestern Pennsylvania’s economy,” Senator Casey said. “The Army Corps should move as swiftly as possible to put in place a comprehensive, effective plan. Getting this right will protect the region’s tourism industry and play a substantial role in future economic growth.”
The full text of Casey’s letter can be seen below:
The Honorable Jo-Ellen Darcy
Assistant Secretary of the Army
Department of the Army, Civil Works
Dear Assistant Secretary Darcy:
We are pleased that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, as a part of the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee, is continuing to implement and explore strategies that address the potential transfer of Asian carp and other aquatic invasive species (AIS) between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins. In addition to continuing this work, it is imperative that the Corps work with Congress on developing a plan that will provide long term, sustainable protection for the Great Lakes from the spread of nonindigenous aquatic species, which threaten our region’s environment, fishing and boating industries, and overall economy.
The Water Resources Development Act of 2007 tasked the Corps, in consultation with a variety of other federal and state agencies, to conduct a feasibility study that evaluates alternatives and technologies that could be used to prevent the transfer of nonindigenous aquatic species between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins through a variety of pathways. A final version of this study, known as the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study (GLMRIS), is due to Congress in January 2014.
It is our understanding that this report will provide a set of alternatives for Congress to assess but will not include a formal recommendation of which alternative would be most effective in preventing species, like Asian carp, from transferring between the two basins in the long term. It is our expectation that the Corps will work with Congress, our staff, and regional stakeholders before and after the report is issued so that we can expeditiously determine how to best move forward with a comprehensive approach to address Asian Carp and other aquatic invasive species.
We ask you to identify how you intend to work with stakeholders on a comprehensive alternative that will maintain commerce, enhance and not degrade water quality, and permanently safeguard the Great Lakes from Asian carp and other invasive species following the release of the GLMRIS report. Please explain what decisions and authorizations will be necessary to allow for implementation of a comprehensive approach to address invasive species. We also ask you to describe measures that have been taken to date and identify interim measures that can be put into place to greatly reduce the risk of invasive species moving between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins. Upon release of the GLMRIS report, it is imperative that the Corps continue its evaluation process under existing authority so that we can move very quickly on a comprehensive approach to best protect the environmental and economic health of the Great Lakes and Mississippi River.
Protecting the Great Lakes from harmful aquatic species is a shared responsibility of Congress, the Corps, other federal agencies, the affected states, and relevant local agencies. We are committed to working with you and to quickly identify a long-term approach to a problem that could have devastating effects on our region’s economy, environment, and way of life.
We look forward to your positive response.