Michigan attorney general Bill Schuette recently announced a new effort by six Great Lakes attorneys general to expand a coalition to fight the spread of aquatic invasive species such as Asian carp and zebra mussels passing between the basins of the Great Lakes and Mississippi River via Chicago-area waterways.
Schuette and the attorneys general of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ohio, New York and Pennsylvania are reaching out to colleagues in other states affected by aquatic invasive species by asking those officials to join them in demanding immediate action by federal authorities to develop a permanent ecological separation at Chicago.
Such a barrier would halt the spread of and damage caused by aquatic invasive species.
In July, the Army Corps of Engineers released a list of 40 aquatic invasive species with the highest risk of traveling through the waterway in either direction. Of those species, 30 pose a high risk to the Mississippi River Basin and 10, including Asian carp, pose a high risk to the Great Lakes Basin.
“We have Asian carp coming into Lake Michigan and zebra mussels moving out of the Great Lakes and into the heart of our country, both of which are like poison to the ecology of our waters,” Schuette said in a statement. “This is not just a Great Lakes issue. It is a national issue. By working together we hope to put pressure on the federal government to act before it's too late.”
The Great Lakes attorneys general will target their outreach to 27 states that have already been affected by invasive species first introduced to the United States via the Great Lakes, many arriving in the ballast water of oceangoing vessels.
Affected states include those with territory on waterways along the Mississippi River and its tributaries, as well as those as far west as Nevada. Those states have seen the alien species brought into their waters, most likely on boats that picked them up in the Mississippi Basin.