The UnLock Our Jobs coalition, which is advocating for keeping the Chicago locks open and finding a different solution to the Asian carp problem, added new members.
Ports of Indiana; the American Agriculture Movement; U.S. Steel Corp.; Buckley Brothers Granary, of Wilmington Ohio; the Illinois Association of Aggregate Producers; and Kirby Corp., a Texas barge operator, all joined the organization.
"These new additions to the coalition indicate a newfound concern for the debate over Asian carp on economic and environmental affairs, not only in Illinois but in Indiana, Ohio and states as far away as Texas," said Mark Biel, executive director of the Chemical Industry Council of Illinois, in a statement. "Awareness of this issue is growing as people learn more about the importance of this small stretch of water to their own lives and the facts about how we can best protect our lakes."
According to data from the state of Illinois on interstate shipping, more than 77.5 million tons of commodities are shipped to 19 states using the Chicago Area Waterway System. Initial estimates have shown that lock closure could cost the regional economy $4.7 billion in the next 20 years while doing nothing to reduce the risk of Asian carp reach the Great Lakes, according to UnLock Our Jobs.
"With over 30 additional control methods that do not cause the economic devastation of lock closure available, it's essential that alternative options be fully explored and exhausted before any radical decision such as closing the locks is implemented," the group said.