WASHINGTON – Navigational locks and gates in Chicago-area waterways crucial for shipping may be opened less frequently than usual under a $78.5 million campaign to prevent Asian carp from overrunning the Great Lakes, federal officials said Monday.
The plan falls short of closing the navigational structures entirely, as demanded by Michigan and five other Great Lakes states. They fear the locks will provide an opening to the lakes for the giant carp, which some scientists say could devastate the region’s $7 billion fishing industry.
But the Obama administration described the plan as part of an effective strategy for keeping the invasive fish at bay while long-term biological controls are developed. The government said it would take 25 actions to slow the advance of the carp.
Nancy Sutley, head of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, called the plan “an unparalleled effort on the part of the federal government.”
But Michigan officials said nothing short of closing the locks would give the lakes adequate protection. State Attorney General Mike Cox, a Republican running for governor, accused President Barack Obama of letting politics dictate policy, saying Obama “proved today that he’ll do anything to protect the narrow interests of his home state of Illinois, even if it means destroying Michigan’s economy.”
Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, a Democrat and strong Obama supporter, said she didn’t believe “there is any parochialism happening.”