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Legislation seeks to add Asian carp barrier below Great Lakes

U.S. Rep. Candice Miller, R-Mich., chairwoman of the Congressional Boating Caucus, recently introduced the Defending Against Aquatic Invasive Species Act of 2014.

The legislation would authorize the Secretary of the Army to address the issue of aquatic invasive species, particularly Asian carp. The bill was introduced in February and has been referred to the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment.

It seeks to design and construct a barrier to prevent Asian carp from invading the Great Lakes. It also would “authorize the Secretary of the Army to carry out certain activities to prevent the inter-basin transfer of aquatic invasive species between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River, and for other purposes,” according to the Huron Daily Tribune.

The separation of the two watersheds carries an estimated price tag of at least $15 billion and a 25-year timetable for completion.

If it is enacted, Miller’s bill would require the Army Corps of Engineers to begin designing a separation project within 180 days. When the design is finished, the agency would then have 180 days to begin construction.

The bill is co-sponsored by Michigan U.S. Reps. Dan Benishek, R-Iron River; John Conyers Jr., D-Detroit; Marcy Kaptur, D-Toledo; and Mike Rogers, R-Brighton.

Although the Michigan House of Representatives approved two resolutions that are part of Miller’s congressional bill, she understands the difficulty of receiving federal approval.

The state of Illinois has resisted calls to change the canal and erect physical barriers to separate Lake Michigan from Chicago’s waterways, stressing that the legislation is too expensive and harmful to commercial shipping.

Miller said six of eight states bordering the Great Lakes favor some form of action on the Asian carp problem.

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