Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson has filed a brief in the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of the state of Minnesota supporting Michigan’s motion for a preliminary injunction to protect the Great Lakes from Asian carp pending a reopening of the Wisconsin v. Illinois original action. The Supreme Court may take up the motion at its January 8, 2010 conference. The state of Ohio has also filed a short memorandum with the Supreme Court supporting Michigan’s petition to reopen the case and modify the 1967/1980 Chicago diversion decree. Later this week, I expect the state of Illinois will respond to the motion, perhaps offering a glimpse of its arguments in favor of keeping the Chicago Canal open, despite the risk it creates for allowing invasive Asian carp to enter the Great Lakes.
Meanwhile, popular support for taking effective action to prevent the Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes through the Chicago Canal is building. The New York Times ran an editorial that summed things up nicely:
The only sure way to stop carp — and whatever other invasive species are waiting — is to close the canal and again separate the Mississippi and Great Lakes watersheds. That would be hugely costly and politically difficult, given the importance of shipping to the region.
Closing the canal locks temporarily, while expensive and disruptive, is probably the best way to buy time until a solution can be devised that does not place an immense, fragile ecosystem entirely at the mercy of waterborne shipping. There isn’t a lot of time left to act.