I just returned from a Michigan Senate hearing on Asian carp. It was a joint hearing of the Senate Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs Committee (chaired by Senator Patty Birkholz) and the Senate Hunting, Fishing, and Outdoor Recreation Committee (chaired by Senator Jim Barcia). Senator Birkholz is a Republican whose district includes Lake Michigan shoreline, while Senator Barcia is a Democrat whose district includes Lake Huron shoreline, so the hearing had a nice bipartisan/bi-lake balance.
The committees heard testimony from John Nevin of the International Joint Commission, Dr. Robert Shuchman and Dr. Alex Mayer of Michigan Tech, and Peter Manning, the Environment, Natural Resources & Agriculture Division Chief for the Office of the Attorney General. I was invited to testify on the legal work we are doing at the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center on behalf of Senator Birkholz and Representative Rebekah Warren, as we intend to file an amicus brief with the Supreme Court on their behalf if the Court grants Michigan’s motion to reopen the Wisconsin v. Illinois case.
The timing of the Supreme Court case has slowed a bit. Last week, the Alliance for the Great Lakes, National Wildlife Federation, and Natural Resources Defense Council filed an amicus brief supporting the petitions to reopen the case. The United States, State of Illinois, and Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago made requests for extension to file their responses to Michigan’s renewed motion for preliminary injunction and the petitions to reopen. The Supreme Court granted the requested extensions, so responses on the renewed motion for preliminary injunction are now due on February 25, and responses to the petitions to reopen are now due March 22. Normally extensions aren’t a big deal, but given the urgency of the situation, this increases the risk that Asian carp will get into the Great Lakes before the Court can even decide to take the case.