Whitmer, Great Lakes governors form coalition on Asian carp

    Gov. Gretchen Whitmer at the Mackinac Policy Conference
    Gov. Gretchen Whitmer speaks at the Mackinac Policy Conference, May 29, 2019 | Andrew Roth

    Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s office announced Tuesday morning that she, as part of a new bipartisan coalition of governors in the Great Lakes region, will assist Illinois officials in blocking the invasive Asian carp at a crucial “choke point” in northern Illinois.

    The Great Lakes
    Great Lakes in Sunlight, 06/14/12 | NASA, International Space Station, Flickr

    The group includes not only the governors of every state that touches the Great Lakes, but the premiers of the Canadian provinces of Quebec and Ontario. According to a statement from Whitmer, the coalition will “support Illinois in its nonfederal sponsorship role, by engaging in technical and policy teams as needed and facilitating discussions among the states [and] provinces regarding providing support towards protecting the Great Lakes.”

    Whitmer called the move “a real solution that ensures that we move the Brandon Road Lock and Dam forward while addressing the high costs of this project.,” She added saying she’ll “continue to work with our congressional delegation and [Illinois] Governor Pritzker to protect our precious Great Lakes and our environment.”

    At the beginning of July, both of Michigan’s U.S. senators along with most of its congressional delegation toured the Brandon Road site in Joliet, Ill., on the Des Plaines River. There, they checked the progress of an ongoing U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project that will use bubbles, noise and electricity meant to stop carp from entering Lake Michigan. 

    Michigan congressional delegation members
    Michigan delegation members highlight a critical project to protect the Great Lakes from Asian carp at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam in Joliet, IL. | U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow

    The Brandon Road Lock and Dam is a nearly 100-year-old facility that facilitates travel along the Illinois Waterway system. It serves as a crucial site for preventing the spread of Asian carp from the rest of the country’s waterways into Lake Michigan.

    Whitmer has previously been critical of the Army’s plan to do so, questioning its costs as the estimated price tag for the project has reached nearly $800 million.

    The group of governors appealed to the federal government for assistance in its resolution announcing the formation of the group, asking Congress to “immediately authorize and appropriate the funding needed for engineering and design options for a Brandon Road Lock and Dam project to allow construction to begin as soon as possible to protect the health of the Great Lakes and their fisheries to the fullest.”

    Derek Robertson
    Derek Robertson covers local government, education, health care and the social safety net, and LGBTQ issues. Previously, he wrote for Politico Magazine in Washington, and before that covered local politics in Chicago. He is a Genesee County native and graduate of both Wayne State University, where he studied history, and the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. He enjoys film, the Detroit Pistons and his cat. He once competed in the National Spelling Bee, but was eliminated before any potential ESPN appearances.

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