If at first you don’t succeed…

… try, try again.

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — Five states are suing the federal government and Chicago’s water department in federal court, demanding stronger action to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes.

Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Minnesota and Pennsylvania filed the lawsuit Monday in U.S. District Court in northern Illinois.

It seeks an order to close Chicago shipping locks and gates that could provide a pathway to Lake Michigan for the voracious fish.

The U.S. Supreme Court refused twice this year to order the locks closed.

But state officials say the situation has become more urgent since a live Asian carp was found within a few miles of Lake Michigan last month.

The suit also asks for an expedited study of permanently separating the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins.

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SCOTUS makes Michigan’s Asian carp case sleep with the fishes … again

The U.S. Supreme Court again killed Michigan AG Mike Cox’s action to close the canal between the Illinois and Chicago Rivers in hopes of stopping the Asian carp from infiltrating Lake Michigan. This time, it’s dead dead. [SCOTUSblog].

UPDATE: Here’s the AP story:

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court has decided not to get involved in a dispute over how to prevent Asian carp from making their way into the Great Lakes.

The justices turned down a new request from Michigan on Monday to consider ordering permanent closure of Chicago-area shipping locks to prevent the invasive fish from threatening the Great Lakes.

The court had declined previously to order the locks closed on an emergency basis while it considered whether to hear the case. Michigan has led the legal fight to close the locks, arguing that the ravenous carp, which weighs up to 100 pounds (45 kilograms), could devastate the lakes’ $7 billion fishing industry by starving out competitors such as salmon and walleye.

UPDATE II: Again from the AP, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) is requesting a study of the potential effects of Asian carp on the lakes. Sounds like a good idea for six months ago:

A New York senator said a full federal study is needed to determine how big a bite Asian carp would take from the regional economy if they invade the Great Lakes.

Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer said he will request a comprehensive study in a letter he plans to send Monday to the Environmental Protection Agency, Coast Guard, Army Corps of Engineers and Fish and Wildlife Service.

Two species of Asian carp are threatening to enter Lake Michigan from Chicago-area waterways.

State officials and scientists say if the carp spread across the lakes, they could threaten the $7 billion fishing industry by starving out competing species.

Schumer says a broader analysis is needed that would consider potential damage to other industries such as tourism and shipping — and costs to governments from monitoring and control programs.

"No studies have been conducted to assess the true economic impacts of allowing Asian carp to establish a breeding population in the Great Lakes," Schumer said in the letter, which was provided to The Associated Press. "The lack of this crucial information makes it impossible to weigh the options before us and determine the best course of action to fight the spread of Asian carp."

An economic analysis released this month by the Illinois Chamber of Commerce found that closing the shipping locks in Chicago waterways would cost the area economy about $4.7 billion over two decades.

That report envisions a far greater economic ripple than a February study commissioned by the state of Michigan.

Transportation specialist John Taylor of Wayne State University in Detroit and James Roach, a consultant, said Illinois was overstating the economic damage closing the locks could cause. They estimated it would boost the costs of transporting and hauling cargo by about $70 million annually — a fraction of Chicago’s $521 billion economy.

The U.S. Supreme Court twice has rejected Michigan’s request to order the locks closed.

 

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Cox takes aim at carp yet again

Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox has filed a renewed motion with the U.S. Supreme Court for a  preliminary injunction to close Chicago-area locks because of new information that became available after the Court denied the original motion on Jan. 19. 

Cox pointed to eDNA tests showing evidence of Asian carp in Lake Michigan that was available three days before the Court made its decision but not provided by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers until afterward.

“We think the Court should take another look at our request to hit the pause button on the locks until the entire Great Lakes region is comfortable that an effective  plan is in place to stop Asian carp,” Cox said in a statement.  “While we would like to see significant and immediate action as a result of next week’s meeting between the governors and  administration, that is an unknown at this time, so our battle to protect the Lakes will continue.”

Michigan’s request to reopen the “Chicago Diversion” case, supported by Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and the Province of Ontario, remains before the Supreme Court and briefs are due by February 19.  That request seeks a long-term solution to the crisis that will protect the ecology and economy of the Great Lakes.

Cox also called on President Barack Obama to step in to at least temporarily close the locks.

SCOTUS denies Cox attempt to stop Asian carp

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to order immediate closure of shipping locks near Chicago to prevent Asian carp from infesting the Great Lakes.

The court rejected a request by Michigan for a preliminary injunction to close the locks temporarily while a long-term solution is sought to the threatened invasion by the ravenous fish. The one-sentence ruling didn’t explain the court’s reasoning.

Asian carp, primarily bighead and silver varieties, have been migrating up the Mississippi and Illinois rivers toward the Great Lakes for decades. They have swarmed waterways near Chicago leading to Lake Michigan.

Scientists fear that if they reach the lakes, they could disrupt the food chain and endanger the $7 billion fishery.

The biggest Asian carp can reach 4 feet in length and weigh 100 pounds while consuming up to 40 percent of their body weight daily in plankton, the foundation of the Great Lakes food web.

Many scientists say they could starve out popular species such as trout and salmon.

They also are spooked by passing motors and often hurtle from the water, colliding with boaters forcefully enough to break bones.

Officials poisoned a section of the canal in December after discovering genetic material that suggested at least some carp might have eluded an electric barrier on the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal and could be within six miles of Lake Michigan. If so, the only other obstacles between them and the lake are shipping locks and gates.

Last week, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said additional carp DNA — but no live fish — had been found in three different spots along the Chicago River within a mile of where it flows into Lake Michigan.

Michigan, joined by Minnesota, New York, Ohio and Wisconsin and the Canadian province of Ontario, asked the high court to order the locks closed as a stopgap measure while considering a permanent separation between Lake Michigan and the Mississippi River basin.

"While this action means that the court will not order an immediate closure of the locks … it does not mean that no action will be taken in the case," said Josh Mogerman, spokesman for the National Resources Defense Council. "There is still a significant possibility that the court will issue a decision regarding Michigan’s broader requests for action on this issue."

The state of Illinois, backed by the Obama administration, fought the proposal. They said the DNA samples weren’t sufficient evidence that the carp were on the verge of slipping into Lake Michigan, and said closing the locks would damage shipping and passenger traffic on the busy waterway.

A message seeking comment was left Tuesday with Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office.

Asian carp target of lawsuit

The Detroit Free Press reports that Attorney General Mike Cox has ratcheted up the war on the potential Asian carp invasion into the Great Lakes. 

You may remember, these are voracious, up to 100-pound carp that can be expected eat our domestic species out of house and home. They are a highly acrobat ic fish that can jump into boats, endangering boaters. They are a lose-lose for the entire Great Lakes ecosystem, and those who say Cox is overreacting, just think zebra mussels only 100 times worse.

West Michigan legal news links

Ottawa County Prosecutor Kent Engle has announced his candidacy for retiring circuit judge Calvin Bosman’s seat.

RhemDcolorUPDATE: David A. Rhem, pictured left, a partner at Varnum LLP, has also announced his candidacy for Bosman’s seat. The seat will be filled during the November 2010 election.

 

 

 

Muskegon County Drain Commissioner Jeffrey Hepler has been charged with making a false police report. Hepler allegedly reported to police that his motorcycle was stolen after crashing it last August.

Attorney General Mike Cox said that he’ll go to court to force the closure of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal in order to protect Lake Michigan from Asian carp.

Two Detroit College of Law at Michigan State University Michigan State University College of Law professors have started a project to legalize e-marriages (in which couples are allowed to marry over the internet under the laws of whatever jurisdiction they choose).